Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.19, 8231-8242, 2020
The limiting factors of oncolytic virus immunotherapy and the approaches to overcome them
Oncolytic virus (OV) immunotherapy is characterized by viruses which specifically target cancer cells and cause their cytolysis. They provide a unique and promising new tool for the eradication of cancer as they interact with and affect the tumor microenvironment (TME), vasculature, and immune system. Advancements of genetic engineering have allowed for these viruses to be armed in such a way to have enhanced targeting, strong immunomodulation properties, and an ability to modify the TME. However, there are still major limitations in their use, mostly due to difficulties in delivering the viral particles to the tumors and in ensuring that the immunomodulatory properties are able to stimulate the host immune response to mount a complete response. Using novel delivery systems and using OVs as a complementary therapy in a combinatorial treatment have shown some significant successes. In this review, we discuss the major issues and difficulties in using OVs as anti-tumor agents and some of the strategies put in place so far to overcome these limitations.