Virotherapy: From single agents to combinatorial treatments

Anna Maria Malfitano, Sarah Di Somma, Carmelina Antonella Iannuzzi, Francesca Pentimalli, Giuseppe Portella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Virotherpay is emerging as a promising strategy against cancer, and three oncolytic viruses (OVs) have gained approval in different countries for the treatment of several cancer types. Beyond the capability to selectively infect, replicate and lyse cancer cells, OVs act through a multitude of events, including modification of the tumour micro/macro-environment as well as a complex modulation of the anti-tumour immune response by activation of danger signals and immunogenic cell death pathways. Most OVs show limited effects, depending on the viral platform and the interactions with the host. OVs used as monotherapy only in a minority of patients elicited a full response. Better outcomes were obtained using OVs in combination with other treatments, such as immune therapy or chemotherapy, suggesting that the full potential of OVs can be unleashed in combination with other treatment modalities. Here, we report the main described combination of OVs with conventional chemotherapeutic agents: platinum salts, mitotic inhibitors, anthracyclines and other antibiotics, anti-metabolites, alkylating agents and topoisomerase inhibitors. Additionally, our work provides an overview of OV combination with targeted therapies: histone deacetylase inhibitors, kinase inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, inhibitors of DNA repair, inhibitors of the proteasome complex and statins that demonstrated enhanced OV anti-neoplastic activity. Although further studies are required to assess the best combinations to translate the results in the clinic, it is clear that combined therapies, acting with complementary mechanisms of action might be useful to target cancer lesions resistant to currently available treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113986
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Immunotherapy
  • Oncolytic virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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