Oncolytic viruses for malignant glioma: On the verge of success?

Yogesh R. Suryawanshi, Autumn J. Schulze

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Glioblastoma is one of the most difficult tumor types to treat with conventional therapy options like tumor debulking and chemo-and radiotherapy. Immunotherapeutic agents like oncolytic viruses, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and chimeric antigen receptor T cells have revolutionized cancer therapy, but their success in glioblastoma remains limited and further optimization of immunotherapies is needed. Several oncolytic viruses have demonstrated the ability to infect tumors and trigger anti-tumor immune responses in malignant glioma patients. Leading the pack, oncolytic herpesvirus, first in its class, awaits an approval for treating malignant glioma from MHLW, the federal authority of Japan. Nevertheless, some major hurdles like the blood–brain barrier, the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, and tumor heterogeneity can engender suboptimal efficacy in malignant glioma. In this review, we discuss the current status of malignant glioma therapies with a focus on oncolytic viruses in clinical trials. Furthermore, we discuss the obstacles faced by oncolytic viruses in malignant glioma patients and strategies that are being used to overcome these limitations to (1) optimize delivery of oncolytic viruses beyond the blood–brain barrier; (2) trigger inflammatory immune responses in and around tumors; and (3) use multimodal therapies in combination to tackle tumor heterogeneity, with an end goal of optimizing the therapeutic outcome of oncolytic virotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1294
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Blood–brain barrier
  • Glioblastoma
  • Oncolytic virus
  • Tumor heterogeneity
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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