Caister Academic Press

Oncolytic HSV Vectors for Cancer Therapy

Samuel Rabkin
from: Alphaherpesviruses: Molecular Virology (Edited by: Sandra K. Weller). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2011)


Oncolytic HSV (oHSV) virotherapy is a promising new strategy for cancer therapy, converting a human pathogen into a therapeutic agent. This takes advantage of the biology of HSV, by introducing genetic alterations that limit virus replication and cytotoxicity to transformed cancer cells while making the virus non-permissive in normal cells. HSV encodes a large number of genes that are non-essential for growth in tissue culture cells, but are nevertheless important for growth in post-mitotic cells and for interfering with intrinsic antiviral and innate immune responses. Many of the cellular pathways regulating growth and antiviral responses are disrupted in cancer cells, which means that viral gene products allowing replication in normal cells are not necessary in cancer cells. In considering the development of an infectious agent for human use, safety is a critical consideration. Therefore mutations targeting cancer cells must be combined with mutations in genes that play important roles in vivo; causing pathogenicity, spread through the nervous system and other organs, latency and reactivation, and adaptive immune responses. This review will focus more on the virological aspects of oHSV vectors and less on the cancer cell target, and describe the multiple strategies and genes involved in generating oHSV vectors. However, it is important to bear in mind that the effect of different HSV mutations will be highly dependent upon the physiology of the particular type of cancer cell and tumor, and that each oHSV vector will be more effective in some tumor types, so that it is unlikely that any one oHSV will be optimal for all types of cancer read more ...
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