Oncolytic viruses

Nat Rev Cancer. 2002 Dec;2(12):938-50. doi: 10.1038/nrc948.


Although the cytotoxic effects of viruses are usually viewed in terms of pathogenicity, it is possible to harness this activity for therapeutic purposes. Viral genomes are highly versatile, and can be modified to direct their cytotoxicity towards cancer cells. These viruses are known as oncolytic viruses. How are viruses engineered to become tumour specific, and can they be used to safely treat cancer in humans?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / virology*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena*
  • Virus Replication
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / metabolism
  • Viruses / pathogenicity*


  • Antineoplastic Agents