One of the most promising strategies against cancer, on which most research efforts are being focused, is the use of modified viruses. Viruses are used in this case as immunotherapy agents, to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Now a work co-led by the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona (UB) together with the LMU in Munich has studied the antitumor effect of an enzyme elimination in viruses of the poxvirus family. This enzyme, called cGAMP-specific nuclease, is responsible for weakening the immune response against viruses and limits the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
The results, presented in the scientific journal Cancer Gene Therapy, show that by eliminating this enzyme, the modified virus becomes more effective in the fight against cancer since it significantly increases the immune response against cancer cells in mouse tumor models. This increased immune response against tumors translates into better effectiveness of cancer treatment.
The results of this study are promising and suggest that the use of modified viruses may be an effective strategy to treat cancer in the future. “In addition, this study provides new insight into how viral genes dedicated to escaping from the immune system may affect the efficacy of viral immunotherapy,” adds Dr. Juan J. Rojas, principal investigator of the Immunity, Inflammation, and Cancer group of IDIBELL and UB, and one of the project leaders.
The researchers hope that their findings will open up new possibilities for the development of effective antitumor treatments based on modified viruses. This study represents a significant advance in the investigation of viral immunotherapy and its potential to treat cancer.
The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.
IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).