Real-Time Fluorescence Image-Guided Oncolytic Virotherapy for Precise Cancer Treatment

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 17;22(2):879. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020879.


Oncolytic virotherapy is one of the most promising, emerging cancer therapeutics. We generated three types of telomerase-specific replication-competent oncolytic adenovirus: OBP-301; a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing adenovirus, OBP-401; and Killer-Red-armed OBP-301. These oncolytic adenoviruses are driven by the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) promoter; therefore, they conditionally replicate preferentially in cancer cells. Fluorescence imaging enables visualization of invasion and metastasis in vivo at the subcellular level; including molecular dynamics of cancer cells, resulting in greater precision therapy. In the present review, we focused on fluorescence imaging applications to develop precision targeting for oncolytic virotherapy. Cell-cycle imaging with the fluorescence ubiquitination cell cycle indicator (FUCCI) demonstrated that combination therapy of an oncolytic adenovirus and a cytotoxic agent could precisely target quiescent, chemoresistant cancer stem cells (CSCs) based on decoying the cancer cells to cycle to S-phase by viral treatment, thereby rendering them chemosensitive. Non-invasive fluorescence imaging demonstrated that complete tumor resection with a precise margin, preservation of function, and prevention of distant metastasis, was achieved with fluorescence-guided surgery (FGS) with a GFP-reporter adenovirus. A combination of fluorescence imaging and laser ablation using a KillerRed-protein reporter adenovirus resulted in effective photodynamic cancer therapy (PDT). Thus, imaging technology and the designer oncolytic adenoviruses may have clinical potential for precise cancer targeting by indicating the optimal time for administering therapeutic agents; accurate surgical guidance for complete resection of tumors; and precise targeted cancer-specific photosensitization.

Keywords: FUCCI; adenovirus; cancer cell cycle; cancer stem cell; fluorescent proteins; imaging; mouse model; oncolytic virotherapy; orthotopic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Fluorescence
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / virology
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy / methods*
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy / trends*
  • Oncolytic Viruses / genetics
  • Optical Imaging / methods
  • Precision Medicine / methods
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomerase / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase