Background: Vectors derived from alphaviruses are gaining interest for their high transfection potency and strong immunogenicity.
Objectives: After a brief introduction on alphaviruses and their vectors, an overview is given on current preclinical immunotherapy studies using vector systems based on alphaviruses. The efficacy of alphavirus vectors in inducing immune responses will be illustrated by a more detailed description of immunization studies using recombinant Semliki Forest virus for the treatment of human papilloma virus-induced cervical cancer.
Results: Immunization with recombinant alphavirus results in the induction of humoral and cellular immune responses against microbes, infected cells and cancer cells. Preclinical studies demonstrate that infectious diseases and cancer can be treated prophylactically as well as therapeutically.
Conclusions: Alphavirus-based genetic immunization strategies are highly effective in animal model systems, comparing quite favourably with any other approach. Therefore, we hope and expect to see an efficient induction of tumour-or microbial immunity and a positive outcome in future clinical efficacy studies.