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Therapeutic virus helps boost immune system's ability to fight cancer

Therapeutic viruses help turbocharge the immune system against cancer
Inset showing a cancer cell (center) surrounded by immune T cells and enhanced oncolytic cells (Anti-cancer) virus. A new study describes how a combination of immunotherapy and viral therapy using myxoma virus offers new hope for treating patients with drug-resistant cancer. Credit: Jason Dries

The immune system has evolved to protect the body from a wide variety of potential threats. These include bacterial diseases, including plague, cholera, diphtheria, and Lyme disease, and viral infections, such as influenza, Ebola, and SARS CoV-2.

Despite the impressive power of the immune system’s complex web of defenses, fighting one threat is especially challenging. This occurs when the body’s own natural cells become abnormal, leading to the phenomenon of cancer. Although the immune system often tries to rid the body of malignant cells, its efforts are often frustrated as the disease progresses unchecked. The inset shows a cancer cell (center) surrounded by immune T cells and enhanced oncolytic (anticancer) virus. A new study describes how a combination of immunotherapy and viral therapy using myxoma virus offers new hope for treating patients with drug-resistant cancer.

New research published in the journal Cancer cells , corresponding authors Grant McFadden, Masmudur Rahman and their colleagues propose a new line of attack that shows treatment resistance Cancer Hope.

This approach involves a combination of two approaches, each of which has achieved considerable success against certain cancers success. The study describes how oncolytic virotherapy, a technique that uses an anti-cancer virus, works synergistically with existing immunotherapy techniques to improve immunity to effectively target and destroy cancer cells.

Oncolytic viruses represent an exciting new avenue for cancer therapy. Such viruses have an extraordinary ability to hunt and terminate cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed, and enhance the immune system’s ability to recognize and terminate cancer cells.

A virus called myxoma is the focus of the current study and the research team’s area of ​​expertise. Research has shown that using T cells infected with myxoma virus can induce a previously unobserved form of cancer cell death.

Known as autologous, this form of cell destruction may be particularly useful in solid tumors that have been shown to Various forms of cancer treatment are resistant, including immunotherapy alone.

“This work affirms the great potential of combining viral therapy with cell therapy to treat currently refractory cancers, ‘ McFadden said.

McFadden is director of the Center for Biological Design of Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy at Arizona State University.

Internal Sentinel

The immune system consists of a series of specialized cells designed to patrol the body and respond to threats. The system is involved in an endless arms race against pathogens that have evolved sophisticated technologies to try to defeat immune defenses, spread within the body and cause disease. Cancer presents unique challenges to the immune system, as tumor cells often lack cell-identifying features that allow the immune system to attack them by distinguishing between self and non-self.

Cancer cells can hunt and destroy them by further shortening the immune effort through a series of evasion strategies. The researchers hope to help the immune system overcome cancer’s notorious camouflage tactics, developing new experimental techniques that fall into the category of adoptive cell therapy, or ACT.

Such methods typically involve removing a group of cancer-fighting white blood cells called T cells, altering their ability to seek and destroy and They are reinjected into the patient. Two forms of ACT immunotherapy are described in the new study: CAR T-cell therapy (CART) and T-cell receptor engineering (TCR). The basic idea in each case is the same: use activated T lymphocytes extracted from patients to treat cancer.

New method for tumor cells Two strikes

These treatments The development of immunotherapy can be described as revolutionary, and some cancer patients facing grim prospects have achieved remarkable recoveries after using immunotherapy. But techniques like CART and TCR still have their limitations and are often ineffective for advanced solid tumors. In this case, cancer cells often manage to evade T cell destruction by downregulating or losing surface antigens or MHC proteins that T cells use to recognize them.

This new study highlights the ability of immunotherapy combined with viral therapy to break through walls against cancer, especially using tumor T cells. Myxomas can directly target and kill cancer cells, but more usefully can induce an unusual type of T-cell-directed cell death known as autologous. This form of cell death enhances two other forms of programmed cancer cell death induced by T cells, apoptosis and pyroptosis.

During myxoma-mediated autism, cancer cells in the vicinity of the treatment target also kill. This effect can significantly enhance the aggressive eradication of cancer cells by dual therapy, even in notoriously difficult-to-treat solid tumors.

So a combination myxoma immunotherapy has the potential to transform so-called “cold tumors” that fly under the immune system’s radar It is a “hot tumor” that immune cells can recognize and destroy, so that CAR T cells or TCR cells can enter the tumor environment, proliferate and activate.

“We are on the verge of discovering new aspects of myxoma virus and oncolytic virus therapy,” Rahman said. “Furthermore, these findings open the door to testing anti-cancer viruses using other cell-based cancer immunotherapies available for cancer patients.”

The ability to fundamentally reengineer oncolytic viruses, such as myxoma, to target a range of drug-resistant cancers offers new frontiers in the treatment of this devastating disease.

More information: Ningbo Zheng et al, Myxoma virus-infected CAR-T and TCR-T cells induce autologous proliferation of tumor cells to overcome primary and acquired drug resistance, Cancer Cell (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.ccell.2022.08.001

: Therapeutic virus helps boost immunity Therapeutic Ability of Systems (August 27, 2022) Retrieved September 3, 2022 from

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