Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 144, Issue 12, pp 2433–2440 | Cite as

Progress in gene therapy using oncolytic vaccinia virus as vectors

  • Xue Yang
  • Biao Huang
  • Lili Deng
  • Zhigang HuEmail author
Review – Clinical Oncology



Vaccinia virus was widely used in the World Health Organization’s smallpox eradication campaign and is currently a promising vector for gene therapy owing to its unique characteristics. Vaccinia virus can selectively replicate and propagate productively in tumor cells, resulting in oncolysis. In addition, rapid viral particle production, wide host range, large genome size (approximately 200 kb), and safe handling render vaccinia virus a suitable vector for gene therapy.

Materials and methods

Cancer vaccines and gene therapy are being studied in clinical trials and experiment researches. However, we put forward unique challenges of optimal selection of foreign genes, administration and modification of VACV, personalized medicine, and other existing problems, based on current researches and our own experiments.


This review presents an overview of the vaccinia virus from its mechanisms to medical researches and clinical trials. We believe that the solution to these problems will contribute to understanding mechanisms of VACV and provide a theoretical basis for clinical treatment.


Oncolytic viruses Vaccinia virus Cancer vaccines Gene therapy Oncolytic vector 



Vaccinia virus


Western reserve


Vaccinia virus Tian Tan strain


Thymidine tyrosine kinase


Granulocyte–macrophage colony stimulating factor


Modified vaccinia Ankara






RNA interference


Short interfering double-stranded RNA


Short hairpin RNA



We thanked Jie Liu for the literature search.

Author contributions

XY and BH did the data analysis and interpretation, and manuscript writing; LD did collection and assembly of data; ZH did the conception/design, provision of study material or patients, and final approval of manuscript.


This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81703061).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

This manuscript does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Affiliated Wuxi People’s Hospital of Nanjing Medical UniversityWuxi Children’s HospitalWuxiChina
  2. 2.School of Life ScienceZhejiang Sci-Tech UniversityZhejiangChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Nuclear Medicine, Ministry of Health, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Molecular Nuclear MedicineJiangsu Institute of Nuclear MedicineWuxiChina

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