#IDIBELLconnect: Immunotherapeutic potential of oncolytic Vaccinia viruses

Juan Jose Rojas

Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL)
Unitat d’Immunologia, Departament de Patologia i Terapèutica Experimental, Universitat de Barcelona



Microsoft Teams Meeting


In the last decade, cancer immunotherapies have emerged as new powerful weapons in the anticancer arsenal. However, many patients do not respond to these therapies and there is a real need for improved immunotherapies or combinations able to overcome tumor immunosuppression and activate robust anti-tumor immunity. Vaccinia viruses are a novel class of immune-oncolytic therapeutics and their mechanism of action is based both on their capacity to replicate selectively in cancer cells and to elicit danger signals that can boost anti-tumor immunity. However, candidate viruses tested to date demonstrated a suboptimal capacity to establish anti-tumor immunity in patients. In this seminar, I will present different strategies that we have engineered in our laboratory in order to improve anti-tumor immune responses, including induction of immunogenic tumor cell death, combination with check-point inhibitors, and activation of innate immunity leading to Th1 polarization of immune responses.


Dr. Rojas is currently a Principal Investigator at IDIBELL-Universitat de Barcelona and he is an expert in cancer immunotherapies and oncolytic viruses. He obtained his PhD at ICO-IDIBELL (Spain, year 2010) working on improving the selectivity of oncolytic adenoviruses. Later, during his postdoctoral experience at The University of Pittsburgh (USA, 2010-2014), his research turned to exploiting the immunotherapeutic potential of oncolytic Vaccinia viruses. In 2015 he accepted a Junior Principal Investigator position at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (Munich, Germany), where he focused on developing vectors with capacity to activate immunogenic tumor cell death. Very recently he has been honored with a “Ramón y Cajal” contract to establish his own research group at IDIBELL-UB.

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