Ex vivo virotherapy with myxoma virus does not impair hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.
Hematological malignancies such as leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma (MM), and the myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) primarily affect adults and are difficult to treat. For high-risk disease, hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HCT) can be used. However, in the setting of autologous HCT, relapse due to contamination of the autograft with cancer cells remains a major challenge. Ex vivo manipulations of the autograft to purge cancer cells using chemotherapies and toxins have been attempted. Because these past strategies lack specificity for malignant cells and often impair the normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, prior efforts to ex vivo purge autografts have resulted in prolonged cytopenias and graft failure. The ideal ex vivo purging agent would selectively target the contaminating cancer cells while spare normal stem and progenitor cells and would be applied quickly without toxicities to the recipient. One agent which meets these criteria is oncolytic viruses. This paper details experimental progress with reovirus, myxoma virus, measles virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, coxsackievirus, and vaccinia virus as well as requirements for translation of these results to the clinic.