Parking car t cells in tumours: Oncolytic viruses as valets or vandals?

Laura Evgin, Richard G. Vile

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Oncolytic viruses (OVs) and adoptive T cell therapy (ACT) each possess direct tumour cytolytic capabilities, and their combination potentially seems like a match made in heaven to complement the strengths and weakness of each modality. While providing strong innate immune stimulation that can mobilize adaptive responses, the magnitude of anti-tumour T cell priming induced by OVs is often modest. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T cells bypass conven-tional T cell education through introduction of a synthetic receptor; however, realization of their full therapeutic properties can be stunted by the heavily immune-suppressive nature of the tumour microenvironment (TME). Oncolytic viruses have thus been seen as a natural ally to overcome immunosuppressive mechanisms in the TME which limit CAR T cell infiltration and functionality. Engineering has further endowed viruses with the ability to express transgenes in situ to relieve T cell tumour-intrinsic resistance mechanisms and decorate the tumour with antigen to overcome antigen heterogeneity or loss. Despite this helpful remodeling of the tumour microenvironment, it has simultaneously become clear that not all virus induced effects are favourable for CAR T, begging the question whether viruses act as valets ushering CAR T into their active site, or vandals which cause chaos leading to both tumour and T cell death. Herein, we summarize recent studies combining these two therapeutic modalities and seek to place them within the broader context of viral T cell immunology which will help to overcome the current limitations of effective CAR T therapy to make the most of combinatorial strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1106
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Adoptive T cell therapy
  • CAR T cell
  • Immunotherapy
  • Oncolytic virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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