Viral Oncolysis or Virotherapy

  • Milton W. TaylorEmail author


The concept of using a virus to “kill” a tumor dates back to the beginning of the 1990’s when it was noticed that occasionally a tumor would shrink following a viral infection. This concept was tested from the 1950s until the 1970s in animal models, and in a few human trials. Success was limited and the practice of viral oncolysis, or “virotherapy,” was met with skepticism. Renewed interest arose following the development of recombinant DNA technology. Recombinant adenovirus and herpesvirus were explored as anticancer agents. Initial efforts to develop their use was delayed due to the death of a patient. New vectors were produced in the 1990s using various viruses, engineered to bind preferentially to tumor cells. Some of these viruses contain transgenes coding for proteins that stimulate the immune system. Within the last few years, clinical trials using various genetically engineered viruses have been initiated. There have not been any toxic side effects, although long-term data are still not available. Preliminary data from a construct of herpes simplex 1 carrying the gene for GCSF shows a positive response against melanoma. A number of biotech companies are now involved in virotherapy; thus, one can conclude that the future of virotherapy as a major tool for the treatment of cancer looks promising.


Vaccinia Virus Thymidine Kinase Newcastle Disease Virus Adenovirus Vector Granulocyte Macrophage Colony Stimulate Factor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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