Design and application of oncolytic HSV vectors for glioblastoma therapy

Expert Rev Neurother. 2009 Apr;9(4):505-17. doi: 10.1586/ern.09.9.


Glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most common human brain tumors. The tumor is generally highly infiltrative, making it extremely difficult to treat by surgical resection or radiotherapy. This feature contributes to recurrence and a very poor prognosis. Few anticancer drugs have been shown to alter rapid tumor growth and none are ultimately effective. Oncolytic vectors have been employed as a treatment alternative based on the ability to tailor virus replication to tumor cells. The human neurotropic herpes simplex virus (HSV) is especially attractive for development of oncolytic vectors (oHSV) because this virus is highly infectious, replicates rapidly and can be readily modified to achieve vector attenuation in normal brain tissue. Tumor specificity can be achieved by deleting viral genes that are only required for virus replication in normal cells and permit mutant virus replication selectively in tumor cells. The anti-tumor activity of oHSV can be enhanced by arming the vector with genes that either activate chemotherapeutic drugs within the tumor tissue or promote anti-tumor immunity. In this review, we describe current designs of oHSV and the experience thus far with their potential utility for glioblastoma therapy. In addition, we discuss the impediments to vector effectiveness and describe our view of future developments in vector improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors / physiology
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy / methods*
  • Simplexvirus / genetics