Immunostimulatory gene therapy has been developed during the past twenty years. The aim of immunostimulatory gene therapy is to tilt the suppressive tumor microenvironment to promote anti-tumor immunity. Hence, like a Trojan horse, the gene vehicle can carry warriors and weapons into enemy territory to combat the tumor from within. The most promising immune stimulators are those activating and sustaining Th1 responses, but even if potent effects were seen in preclinical models, many clinical trials failed to show objective responses in cancer patients. However, with new tools to control ongoing immunosuppression in cancer patients, immunostimulatory gene therapy is now emerging as an interesting option. In parallel, oncolytic viruses have been shown to be safe in patients. To prolong immune stimulation and to increase efficacy, these two fields are now merging and oncolytic viruses are armed with immunostimulatory transgenes. These novel agents are racing towards approval as established cancer immunotherapeutics.
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