Cancer immunotherapy is the new generation of cancer therapeutics, which aims to activate the body’s own immune system to identify, seek out and destroy cancer cells.
Our immune system can recognize and fight cancer, but cancer cells often escape detection and destruction by the immune system by releasing immunosuppressive substances that inhibit immune responses.
The aim of cancer immunotherapy is to both disarm the tumor’s ability to block an immune attack as well as to activate anti-tumor immune responses.
One type of cancer immunotherapy is called immunostimulatory gene therapy.
By genetic engineering of the tumor to express human immunostimulatory genes, it will attract immune cells and support them with activation signals leading to tumor immunity.
An oncolytic virus is a recombinant virus that has been genetically modified in a laboratory to specifically replicate in tumor cells. At the end of the replication cycle, the oncolytic virus kills the tumor cell to release new virions (virus particles).
The LOAd703 virus is a double-armed oncolytic adenovirus. LOAd703 (adenovirus serotype 5/35) has the ability to kill tumor cells, as well as enabling both cancer cells and surrounding cells to express two potent immunostimulatory genes called TMZ-CD40L and 4-1BBL.
TMZ-CD40L and 4-1BBL are potent stimulators of anti-tumor immunity that activate key immune cells, like dendritic cells and M1 macrophages, to produce potent cytokines such as IL12, TNFa, IFNg and IL21.
In turn, these so-called Th1 cytokines expand NK cells and memory T cells, key players in mounting and sustaining anti-tumor immune responses.