Viruses are able to penetrate cells, produce both foreign and viral proteins, multiply, and ultimately kill infected cells, raising new hope in cancer therapy. Clinical trials involving first oncolytic (cancer-killing) viruses are very promising, although there is still a significant need for their optimization. In the TheraVision project, the Fraunhofer Institutes ITEM, ISC, IZI, and ITWM, coordinated by IGB, the aim is to establish a broadly applicable platform technology based on Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) for combinatorial oncolytic virus immunotherapy. As proof of concept, an oncolytic virus is being developed for the therapy of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).
Through genetic modification, the HSV1 platform vector has been established and is being functionalized as an oncolytic virus with not only high specificity by means of viral targeting to cancer cells but also high efficacy by encoding immune modulators. For the production of such a virus, a robust and scalable process is being developed simultaneously, optimized by bioinformatic modeling. This process addresses the regulatory stipulations of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) to allow for a seamless transfer to GMP production. Human 3D in vitro tumor models as well as complex humanized in vivo mouse models are established to evaluate the effect of the therapeutic viruses on primary tumors and metastases in the presence of human immune cells. The institutes collaborating in TheraVision bring together core competencies to complete the entire production process of this oncolytic virus technology.