REOLYSIN® is a proprietary variant of the reovirus, an acronym for Respiratory Enteric Orphan Virus, which is widely found in the environment. By adulthood, most people have been exposed to the reovirus. The reovirus is non-pathogenic, which means that infections are typically asymptomatic. In clinical trials, REOLYSIN® has been shown to be well-tolerated, with patients exhibiting only mild, flu-like symptoms. REOLYSIN® has been used alone and in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy for various cancers, including head and neck cancers in an ongoing Phase III clinical trial.
REOLYSIN® is based upon research conducted by the Chief Operating Officer of Oncolytics, Dr. Matt Coffey. It was found that the reovirus was able to infect and selectively destroy cancer cells. When a normal cell is infected with the reovirus, an antiviral response is activated, which prevents the virus from replicating within the cell. However, inside a cancer cell with one or more mutations on a growth pathway called the Ras pathway, there is an aberrant antiviral response that is unable to prevent the virus from replicating. This abnormality allows the reovirus to multiply to an extent that is fatal to the cancer cell.