New research reveals how immunotherapy drugs and viruses can work together to kill cancer cells

July 5, 2024

Dr. Michele Ardolino“These results will help guide ongoing efforts to combine checkpoint inhibitors with cancer-killing viruses in clinical trials.”  -Dr. Michele ArdolinoCancer-killing viruses and immune checkpoint inhibitors could be great partners in fighting certain kinds of cancer, according to a study led by Drs. Michele Ardolino and Jonathan Hodgins published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine

Immune checkpoint inhibitors activate the body’s immune response against cancer by blocking a protein called PD-L1, which is found on the surface of some cancer cells. The team looked at this protein’s role in viral infection by studying cells from mice with prostate cancer as well as tumour samples donated by patients. 

They found PD-L1 sends signals that increase how much glucose the cell uses, and this change in metabolism halts the production of an antiviral protein called type 1 interferon, making cancer cells more vulnerable to infection by cancer-killing viruses. 

“These results will help guide ongoing efforts to combine checkpoint inhibitors with cancer-killing viruses in clinical trials,” says Dr. Ardolino, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.

"The Ottawa Motorcycle Ride For Dad is honoured to have the funds raised by our annual ride and awareness campaigns help fund this research in the fight against prostate cancer!” says Tina Gibson, Co-Chair at Ottawa Motorcycle Ride For Dad.

Authors: Jonathan J. Hodgins, John Abou-Hamad, Ash Hagerman, Edward Yakubovich, Christiano Tanese de Souza, Marie Marotel, Ariel Buchler, Saleh Fadel, Maria M. Park, Claire Fong-McMaster, Mathieu F. Crupi, John C. Bell, Mary-Ellen Harper, Benjamin H. Rotstein, Rebecca C. Auer, Barbara C. Vanderhyden, Luc A. Sabourin, Marie-Claude Bourgeois-Daigneault, David P. Cook, Michele Ardolino

Core Resources: uOttawa Flow Cytometry and Virometry Core Facility, OHRI Flow Cytometry Core Facility, uOttawa Metabolomics Core Facility, TOH Global Tissue Consenting program, Ottawa Methods Centre, uOttawa Pre-clinical Imaging Core, uOttawa Louise Pelletier Histology Core Facility.

Funding:  This research was funded by Ride For Dad, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Cancer Research Society. All research at The Ottawa Hospital is enabled by generous donors to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa and supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.


Disease and research area tags: Cancer, Prostate cancer, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncolytic viruses

Scientific Program tags: Cancer Research Program