Oncolytic Viruses and Immune Checkpoint Inhibition: The Best of Both Worlds

Venkatesh Sivanandam, Christopher J. LaRocca, Nanhai G. Chen, Yuman Fong, Susanne G. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Cancer immunotherapy and the emergence of immune checkpoint inhibitors have markedly changed the treatment paradigm for many cancers. They function to disrupt cancer cell evasion of the immune response and activate sustained anti-tumor immunity. Oncolytic viruses have also emerged as an additional therapeutic agent for cancer treatment. These viruses are designed to target and kill tumor cells while leaving the normal cells unharmed. As part of this process, oncolytic virus infection stimulates anti-cancer immune responses that augment the efficacy of checkpoint inhibition. These viruses have the capability of transforming a “cold” tumor microenvironment with few immune effector cells into a “hot” environment with increased immune cell and cytokine infiltration. For this reason, there are multiple ongoing clinical trials that combine oncolytic virotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors. This review will detail the key oncolytic viruses in preclinical and clinical studies and highlight the results of their testing with checkpoint inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Therapy - Oncolytics
StatePublished - Jun 28 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • immune checkpoint inhibitor
  • immunotherapy
  • oncolytic virus

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review

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