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Mol Ther. 2010 Sep;18(9):1698-705. doi: 10.1038/mt.2010.140. Epub 2010 Jul 6.

Targeting localized immune suppression within the tumor through repeat cycles of immune cell-oncolytic virus combination therapy.

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University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15238, USA.


A major limitation to the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer has been the localized immune suppressive environment within the tumor. Although there is evidence that tumor-selective (oncolytic) viruses may help to overcome this immune suppression, a primary limitation to their use has been limited systemic delivery potential, especially in the face of antiviral immunity. We recently demonstrated that tumor-trafficking immune cells can efficiently deliver oncolytic viral therapies to their tumor targets. These cells act as both a therapeutic agent and also a carrier vehicle for the oncolytic virus. Here, we demonstrate that such delivery is also possible in the face of pre-existing antiviral immunity, so overcoming the limited systemic delivery of naked, cell-free virus. It was also found that treatment of previously immunized mice or repeat treatments leading to immunization resulted in a switch from a primarily oncolytic to an immunotherapeutic mechanism of action. Furthermore, repeat cycles of treatment with combination immune cell-viral therapy resulted in increased tumor infiltration of effector T-cells and a general reduction in the levels of known immune suppressive lymphocyte populations. This therefore represents a novel and effective means to overcome localized immune suppression within the tumor microenvironment.

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