Clinical trials using oncolytic viral therapy to treat adult glioblastoma: a progress report

Victor M. Lu, Ashish H. Shah, Frederic A. Vallejo, Daniel G. Eichberg, Evan M. Luther, Sumedh S. Shah, Ricardo J. Komotar, Michael E. Ivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Adult glioblastoma (GBM) has proven refractory to decades of innovation. Oncolytic viral therapy represents a novel therapy that uses viral vectors as both a delivery and therapeutic mechanism to target GBM cells. Despite the growing body of basic science data supporting the feasibility of viral therapy to treat GBM, the reporting of clinical trial results is heterogeneous. Correspondingly, the aim of this study was to present a contemporary summary of the progress all clinical trials have made to date. METHODS The database was reviewed in August 2020 for all possible interventional clinical trials involving viral vector-based therapy to treat adult GBM. These were then screened against selection criteria to identify pertinent clinical trials. RESULTS A total of 29 oncolytic viral therapy trials treating adult GBM were identified. The median start and expected completion years were 2014 and 2020, respectively. At the time of this writing, 10 (35%) trials were reported to have completed recruitment, whereas 7 (24%) were actively recruiting. The median target enrollment number was 36 (range 13-108), with the majority of trials being phase I (n = 18, 62%), and involving secondary GBM among other malignant glioma (n = 19, 66%). A total of 10 unique viral vectors were used across all trials, with the most common being adenovirus (n = 16, 55%). Only 2 (7%) phase I trials to date have reported outcomes on the portal. Results of 12 additional clinical trials were found in academic publications, with median progression-free and overall survival times of 3 and 15 months, respectively, after the first viral dose at recurrence. The coordination of the large majority of trials originated from the US (n = 21, 72%), and the median number of testing sites per trial was 1 (range 1–15), via industry funding (n = 18 trials, 62%). CONCLUSIONS There are multiple early-stage oncolytic viral therapy clinical trials for adult GBM currently active. To date, limited results and outcomes are promising but scarce. The authors expect this to change in the near future because many trials are scheduled to have either nearly or actually reached their expected recruitment completion time. How exactly oncolytic viral therapy will fit into the current treatment paradigms for primary and secondary GBM remains to be seen, and will not be known until safety and toxicity profiles are established by these clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • adenovirus
  • clinical trial
  • glioblastoma
  • oncolytic
  • viral therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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