Oncolytic virus immunotherapies in ovarian cancer: moving beyond adenoviruses

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Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer in UK women with a high relapse rate. The overall survival for ovarian cancer has remained low for decades prompting a real need for new therapies. Recurrent ovarian cancer remains confined in the peritoneal cavity in >80% of the patients, providing an opportunity for locoregional administration of novel therapeutics, including gene and viral therapy approaches. Immunotherapy is an expanding field, and includes oncolytic viruses as well as monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and therapeutic vaccines.

Oncolytic viruses cause direct cancer cell cytolysis and immunogenic cell death and subsequent release of tumor antigens that will prime for a potent tumor-specific immunity. This effect may be further enhanced when the viruses are engineered to express, or coadministered with, immunostimulatory molecules. Currently, the most commonly used and well-characterized vectors utilized for virotherapy purposes are adenoviruses. They have been shown to work synergistically with traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy and have met with success in clinical trials. However, pre-existing immunity and poor in vivo models limit our ability to fully investigate the potential of oncolytic adenovirus as effective immunotherapies which in turn fosters the need to develop alternative viral vectors. In this review we cover recent advances in adenovirus-based oncolytic therapies targeting ovarian cancer and recent advances in mapping immune responses to oncolytic virus therapies in ovarian cancer.

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