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Reovirus in cancer treatment


Considering the different treatment option for cancer, it has become challenging to understand what treatment works for what type of Cancer. Conventional treatment methods of radiation and chemotherapy are most popular in clinical practices.
However, it has huge side effects depending on the patient’s health condition 1. The recent advances in the treatment of treating cancer with Reovirus or Respiratory Enteric Orphan virus have become increasingly popular due to its huge success in different phases of clinical trial 2,3.

Being a cancer cell killing (oncolytic) virus, it can kill cancer cells without any significant side effect to the patients 4,5.Initially, Dr. Patrick Lee from Dalhousie University, Canada is one of the first who tested this virus for its oncolytic property 6,7

Presently, there are 21 clinical trials that are done with this virus including ongoing and completed ones as listed in 8. There are many aspects of this treatment which is strikingly different than any other treatment that is currently available.


Reovirus is naturally occurring oncolytic virus that is not associated with any known disease. Most people are exposed to this virus till their adulthood and become nonsymptomatic 9.
A Canadian company called Oncolytics Biotech, based in Calgary has patented this technique of utilizing reovirus for different cancer therapy. They have four completed and three ongoing clinical trials on different applications of reovirus in cancers. This company has globally 415 patents on this technology 10.

Clinical trials

Presently most of the clinical trials are in a combination of existing treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. It has shown significant success in reducing the tumor size of cancer 8,10. The commercial name of this product is called “REOLYSIN® ”. Reolysin has been so far tested for breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, head & neck cancer and refractory myeloma 10-12.

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved Reosylin for clinical use. However, it is not approved for purchase yet. Presently it is only available in clinical trials. This treatment is also referred as oncolytic virotherapy 13. Numerous clinical trials including monotherapy or combination therapy of Reolysin showed consistent safety profile.

The most common side effect that was observed was pyrexia, chills, myalgia, pain, fatigue, and nausea. One year clinical trial with malignant melanoma patients showed Reolysin is very efficacious along with carboplatin and paclitaxel 14.

37th Growth Conference

In a recent presentation of oncolytic Biotech at the 37th Growth Conference on August 9th and 10th, 2017 in Boston, USA, it showed that Reolysin is very effective along with radiation and immunotherapy 15. Patients interested in this treatment can participate in the ongoing clinical trials listed in for studies with US component 8.

There are few other institutes that are actively pursuing work on reovirus and therapeutic potential are Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, USA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA and many other. More about their work can be found at US patent website (
They may also find clinical trials on Reolysin in their geographical area through their clinician and clinical trial websites. However, participation in any clinical trials is determined by the clinician depending on the patient’s history and disease condition.

More information about this drug and possible treatment option can be found on our website Our website will provide more articles and videos related to the most recent and advanced treatment options for different types of cancer.

Author:  dr. Upal Roy



2. Clements D, Helson E, Gujar SA, Lee PW. Reovirus in cancer therapy: an evidence-based review. Oncolytic Virother. 2014 Jul 9;3:69-82. doi: 10.2147/OV.S51321. eCollection 2014. Review. PubMed PMID: 27512664; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4918368.

3. Mohamed A, Johnston RN, Shmulevitz M. Potential for Improving Potency and Specificity of Reovirus Oncolysis with Next-Generation Reovirus Variants.Viruses. 2015 Dec 1;7(12):6251-78. doi: 10.3390/v7122936. Review. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4690860.

4. Gong J, Sachdev E, Mita AC, Mita MM. Clinical development of reovirus for cancer therapy: An oncolytic virus with immune-mediated antitumor activity. World Journal of Methodology. 2016;6(1):25-42. doi:10.5662/wjm.v6.i1.25

5. A Phase I Study of Intravenous Oncolytic Reovirus Type 3 Dearing in Patients with Advanced Cancer Laura Vidal, Hardev S. Pandha, Timothy A. Yap, Christine L. White, Katie Twigger, Richard G. Vile, Alan Melcher, Matt Coffey, Kevin J. Harrington and Johann S. DeBono Clin Cancer Res November 1 2008 (14) (21) 7127-7137; DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0524

6. Strong JE, Tang D, Lee PW. Evidence that the epidermal growth factor receptor on host cells confers reovirus infection efficiency. Virology. 1993Nov;197(1):405-11. PubMed PMID: 8212574.

7. Coffey MC, Strong JE, Forsyth PA, Lee PW. Reovirus therapy of tumors with activated Ras pathway. Science. 1998 Nov 13;282(5392):1332-4. PubMed PMID:9812900.


9. Hamid O, Hoffner B, Gasal E, Hong J, Carvajal RD. Oncolytic immunotherapy: unlocking the potential of viruses to help target cancer. Cancer ImmunolImmunother. 2017 Jul 15. doi: 10.1007/s00262-017-2025-8. [Epub ahead of print]Review. PubMed PMID: 28712033.


11. Cohn DE, Sill MW, Walker JL, O'Malley D, Nagel CI, Rutledge TL, Bradley W,Richardson DL, Moxley KM, Aghajanian C. Randomized phase IIB evaluation of weeklypaclitaxel versus weekly paclitaxel with oncolytic reovirus (Reolysin®) in recurrent ovarian, tubal, or peritoneal cancer: An NRG Oncology/Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Gynecol Oncol. 2017 Sep;146(3):477-483. PMID: 28756871; PubMed

12. Jaime-Ramirez AC, Yu JG, Caserta E, Yoo JY, Zhang J, Lee TJ, Hofmeister C, Lee JH, Kumar B, Pan Q, Kumar P, Baiocchi R, Teknos T, Pichiorri F, Kaur B, Old M.Reolysin and Histone Deacetylase Inhibition in the Treatment of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Mol Ther Oncolytics. 2017 May 10;5:87-96.PMCID: PMC5440762.

13. Pol J, Buqué A, Aranda F, Bloy N, Cremer I, Eggermont A, Erbs P, Fucikova J,Galon J, Limacher JM, Preville X, Sautès-Fridman C, Spisek R, Zitvogel L, Kroemer G, Galluzzi L. Trial Watch-Oncolytic viruses and cancer therapy. Oncoimmunology.2015 Dec 8;5(2):e1117740. eCollection 2016 Feb. Review.PMCID: PMC4801444.

14. Mahalingam D, Fountzilas C, Moseley J, Noronha N, Tran H, Chakrabarty R,Selvaggi G, Coffey M, Thompson B, Sarantopoulos J. A phase II study of REOLYSIN(®) (pelareorep) in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel for patients with advanced malignant melanoma. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2017 Apr;79(4):697-703. PMID:28289863.


16. (US 20140315214 A1)

17. (US 20140335111 A1)

Topics: cancer

Dr. Upal Roy

Written by Dr. Upal Roy

Upal Roy is a part time faculty at James Madison University, Virginia USA, and an entrepreneur. He has obtained his Ph.D. in Microbiology and has been doing research on infectious diseases and drug discovery for last twelve years. His research has shown how drug formulation can be improved to be more sustained and therapeutically effective than the conventional drug that are available in the market.