ORCA is developing a pipeline of innovative anticancer immunotherapies based on the highly promising approach of oncolytic viruses. These are derived from adenovirus, a naturally occurring common cold virus. By genetic modification of the DNA of the adenovirus, it is converted to an oncolytic virus that has a dual mode of action:
It selectively replicates in tumor cells. Due to replication of the virus, the cancer cell explodes (oncolysis). This results in release of thousands of new viruses, which can subsequently infect adjacent cancer cells and destroy them. This process of replication does not take place in normal cells, and therefore the risk of side effects is minimized.
It induces an anti-tumor immune response. As adenoviruses are immunogenic agents themselves, they induce an immune reaction that together with the release of tumor-associated antigens from lysed cancer cells results in the activation of T cells, a specific type of white blood cells. These cells attack and kill tumor cells, thereby amplifying the antitumor effect.
Adenovirus was selected for its following favorable attributes:
• Excellent safety
• Ease to engineer its DNA
• Ability to manufacture the virus at high scale and low cost
• Capacity to prime and boost immune responses