Armed therapeutic viruses: strategies and challenges to arming oncolytic viruses with therapeutic genes

Cancer Gene Ther. 2002 Dec;9(12):1022-35. doi: 10.1038/sj.cgt.7700542.


Oncolytic viruses are attractive therapeutics for cancer because they selectively amplify, through replication and spread, the input dose of virus in the target tumor. To date, clinical trials have demonstrated marked safety but have not realized their theoretical efficacy potential. In this review, we consider the potential of armed therapeutic viruses, whose lytic potential is enhanced by genetically engineered therapeutic transgene expression from the virus, as potential vehicles to increase the potency of these agents. Several classes of therapeutic genes are outlined, and potential synergies and hurdles to their delivery from replicating viruses are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / virology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / virology
  • Oncogenes
  • Prodrugs
  • Transgenes
  • Virus Replication
  • Viruses / genetics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Prodrugs