This Biotech Company Reports Making Ground-Breaking Strides In Combating Solid Tumors

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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One of the distressing aspects of fighting cancer is that its cells hide from most cancer patients’ immune systems, making it more difficult for the immune system to attack the cancer. 

But with the introduction of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, scientists have new tools to find and kill more cancer cells by genetically engineering T cells, enabling them to recognize the cancer better. Unlike more traditional small molecule or biologic treatments, CAR T-cell therapies are manufactured by leveraging each patient’s own T cells.

CAR T is now used to combat large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, multiple myeloma and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children and adults.

According to a report from Transparency Market Research last year, the global CAR T-cell therapy market was valued at $1.1 billion and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 30.6% through 2031. Key players in CAR T-cell therapy include Pfizer Inc. PFE, Novartis AG NVS and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. BMY

Historically, CAR T therapies have not been effective in treating solid tumors. San Diego’s Oncolytics Biotech Inc. ONCY is one company making strides to change that narrative. In collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and Duke University, the company released data from a preclinical study evaluating its lead drug candidate, pelareorep, and chimeric antigen receptor CAR T-cell combination therapy in solid tumors. Oncolytics shared the data in an electronic presentation at the CAR-TCR Summit Europe 2021.  

In that presentation, the results showed that loading CAR T-cells with pelareorep vastly improved their persistence and efficacy in a murine solid tumor model. This result differed significantly from preclinical studies using intratumoral infection with the vesicular stomatitis (VSV) oncolytic virus which weakened CAR T-cells. 

Oncolytics found that the efficacy of pelareorep-loaded CAR T-cell therapy was further enhanced by boosting mice eight days later with a single intravenous dose of pelareorep. The procedure generated highly persistent CAR T-cells, inhibition of recurrent tumor growth and ultimately tumor cures. 

Pelareorep, which is being developed by Oncolytics, is a nonpathogenic, proprietary isolate of the unmodified reovirus: a first-in-class intravenously delivered immuno-oncolytic virus for the treatment of solid tumors and hematological malignancies. The compound induces selective tumor destruction and promotes inflammation through innate and adaptive immune responses to treat a variety of cancers and has been demonstrated to be able to escape neutralizing antibodies found in patients.

"These very exciting data demonstrate pelareorep's ability to overcome major shortcomings of CAR T-cells," Oncolytics President and CEO Matt Coffey said. "Despite commercial success in hematological cancers, CAR T therapies have limited efficacy against solid tumors due to immunosuppressive tumor microenvironments (TMEs) that promote T cell exhaustion and exclusion. Combining CAR T-cells with pelareorep may enable their success against solid cancers. This would substantially broaden the applicability of CAR T-cells to a variety of highly prevalent and difficult-to-treat indications."

For more information on Oncolytics Biotech, visit

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