Suicide gene-armed oncolytic virus for enhanced cancer treatment


Ref.-Nr.: 0204-4297-IKF

Cancer stands as the second-leading cause of human death worldwide, following closely behind cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, with a prevalence that continues to rise. In particular, hepatocellular carcinoma is a significant health concern, ranking as the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and with a rising incidence rate due to increasing levels of cirrhosis and NAFLD/NASH.

Despite recent advancements in cancer therapies, including targeted therapy and immunotherapy, the curative options remain limited, and median survival times have improved marginally.

Virotherapy, a novel biological approach in cancer treatment, uses oncolytic viruses to directly target tumor cells and stimulate a potent, long-lasting anti-tumoral immune response. However, the success rate of virotherapy remains unsatisfactory.


Researchers at the University Hospital Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry have developed an innovative suicide gene-armed virotherapeutic vector that significantly enhances oncolytic effectiveness.

The suicide gene function selectively activates an inert prodrug of 5-FU at the tumour level, leading to cancer cell death and lysis, and allowing to overcome tumor resistance and enhance immune response. This makes our vector ideal to increase response rate to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Key Advantages:

  • Enhanced Oncolytic Effectiveness: The suicide gene enhances oncolytic effect, even in cases of low-level virus replication within infected tumor cells.
  • Improved Survival: In vivo studies on HCC xenograft models show a 5-fold improvement in survival.
  • Safety: The vector is well tolerated in mice and rhesus macaques, with no adverse effects observed in organs, blood parameters, and liver enzymes.

Current Status:

  • Preclinical development, including toxicity studies, has been completed.
  • First GMP lot has been produced and fully characterized
  • First-in-human Phase I clinical trial will be initiated in Q1 2024.

Patent Family and Publications

International Patent Application No. PCT/EP2011/004200, extended and granted in Europe, Japan, Mexico and United States. A list of selected publications is available at this link.


We are open to discuss license agreements to accelerate the integration of this promising oncolytic virus into the clinical practice.

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Patent- und Lizenzmanager

Dr. Francesco Grillo

Medizinischer Chemiker

Telefon: 089 / 29 09 19-47