New immunogenic strain of vaccinia virus unveils potent cancer therapy potential

Vaccinia viruses are therapeutic tools with different biomedical applications depending on the susceptibility characteristics. For example, the strain called MVA (modified vaccinia Ankara), which is unable to replicate in mammalian cells, triggers a potent immune system response and is used to develop vaccines against COVID-19 or AIDS. In contrast, other strains such as Western Reserve (WR) or Copenhagen (Cop), which replicate efficiently in tumour cells, are used to develop cancer treatments. For this reason, they are called immune-oncolytic viruses and are the basis of viral immunotherapy.

However, these viral strains have reduced immunogenicity, which makes them less effective in activating patients' immune responses against tumours.

Now, a study led by the University of Barcelona, the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IBIDELL) and the University of Munich (Germany) has developed a new strain of vaccinia virus, which can replicate in tumor cells while maintaining increased immunogenicity. Specifically, it can to induce so-called immunogenic cell death in tumor cells.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Therapy, has been carried out with the support of the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) and the collaboration of the State Research Agency (AEI). The new therapeutic tool, which has been tested in a wide variety of mouse models, has been shown to have reduced toxicity and a high capacity and efficiency to activate immune responses against tumours. The virus is also effective in different cancer treatments, such as melanoma, colon and kidney cancer.

In addition, we achieved the total disappearance of tumours in a very significant way when we administered the virus repeatedly."

Juan J. Rojas, first author of the study and principal investigator of the Immunity, Inflammation and Cancer group of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB and IBIDELL

The discovery of this new viral strain represents a significant advance in viral immunotherapy research and demonstrates its therapeutic potential for treating cancer patients.

Journal reference:

Rojas, J. J., et al. (2024). A new MVA ancestor-derived oncolytic vaccinia virus induces immunogenic tumor cell death and robust antitumor immune responses. Molecular Therapy.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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