New perspectives in cancer virotherapy: bringing the immune system into play

Immunotherapy. 2010 Mar;2(2):185-99. doi: 10.2217/imt.10.6.


Despite constant advances in medically orientated cancer studies, conventional treatments by surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy remain partly ineffective against numerous cancers. Oncolytic virotherapy - the use of replication-competent viruses that specifically target tumor cells - has opened up new perspectives for improved treatment of these pathologies. Certain viruses demonstrate a natural, preferential tropism for tumor cells, while others can be genetically modified to show such an effect. Several of these viruses have already been used in preclinical and clinical trials in different tumor models; these studies have provided encouraging results and, thus, confirm the growing interest presented by this therapeutic strategy. The role of the immune system in the efficacy of cancer virotherapy has been poorly documented for a long time; however, several recent reports have presented evidence of synergistic effects between both direct viral oncolysis and the activation of specific, anti-tumor immune responses. These findings offer an exciting outlook for the future of cancer virotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Cytopathogenic Effect, Viral
  • DNA Viruses / genetics
  • DNA Viruses / immunology
  • DNA Viruses / physiology
  • Forecasting
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Genetic Vectors / therapeutic use
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy / methods
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy / trends*
  • Oncolytic Viruses* / genetics
  • Oncolytic Viruses* / immunology
  • Oncolytic Viruses* / physiology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA Viruses / genetics
  • RNA Viruses / immunology
  • RNA Viruses / physiology
  • Receptors, Virus / physiology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / physiology
  • Therapies, Investigational
  • Transgenes


  • Cytokines
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins