Bugs and drugs: Oncolytic virotherapy in combination with chemotherapy

Sonia Tusell Wennier, Jia Liu, Grant McFadden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Single agent therapies are rarely successful in treating cancer, particularly at metastatic or end stages, and survival rates with monotherapies alone are generally poor. The combination of multiple therapies to treat cancer has already driven significant improvements in the standard of care treatments for many types of cancers. The first combination treatments exploited for cancer therapy involved the use of several cytotoxic chemotherapy agents. Later, with the development of more targeted agents, the use of novel, less toxic drugs, in combination with the more classic cytotoxic drugs has proven advantageous for certain cancer types. Recently, the combination of oncolytic virotherapy with chemotherapy has shown that the use of these two therapies with very distinct anti-tumor mechanisms may also lead to synergistic interactions that ultimately result in increased therapeutic effects not achievable by either therapy alone. The mechanisms of synergy between oncolytic viruses (OVs) and chemotherapeutic agents are just starting to be elucidated. It is evident, however, that the success of these OV-drug combinations depends greatly on the particular OV, the drug(s) selected, and the cancer type targeted. This review summarizes the different OV-drug combinations investigated to date, including the use of second generation armed OVs, which have been studied with the specific purpose of generating synergistic interactions with particular chemotherapy agents. The known mechanisms of synergy between these OV-drug combinations are also summarized. The importance of further investigating these mechanisms of synergy will be critical in order to maximize the therapeutic efficacy of OV-drug combination therapies in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1817-1833
Number of pages17
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Combination therapy
  • Oncolytic virus
  • Synergism
  • Virotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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