OV-BiTEs: A Promising Approach to Overcoming the Limitations of BiTEs?

Oncolytic viruses (OVs) that encode bispecific T-cell engagers (BiTEs) are a promising strategy for overcoming the limitations of BiTEs and facilitating their broader clinical application, particularly against solid tumors, according to German researchers whose review of this approach was published in the April issue of the Journal of Hematology & Oncology.

“OVs selectively infect and replicate in malignant cells, ultimately leading to tumor cell lysis,” write Johannes P. W. Heidbuechel1 and Christine E. Engeland of the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg, Germany. Encoding BiTEs in OVs “can maximize local concentrations at the tumor site and support penetration into solid tumors while reducing systemic exposure.”

Oncolytic virotherapy “has ideal properties for combinatorial approaches” and a “unique, multipronged mechanism of action circumvents [that] the development of resistance to classical therapies,” the authors write. “Furthermore, oncolysis can also render immune-excluded and immunosuppressed tumors sensitive to otherwise unsuccessful strategies such as immune checkpoint inhibition. Finally, OVs can be engineered to express immunotherapeutic transgenes directly at the site of infection, i.e., the inflamed tumor, achieving high local concentrations while preventing systemic side effects.”

  • Heidbuechel JPW, Engeland CE. Oncolytic viruses encoding bispecific T cell engagers: a blueprint for emerging immunovirotherapies. J Hematol Oncol. 2021;14(1):63. Published 2021 Apr 16. doi:10.1186/s13045-021-01075-5

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