Introduction: The tumor suppressor p53 gene regulates diverse cellular processes, such as cell-cycle arrest, senescence, apoptosis and autophagy, and it is frequently inactivated by genetic alterations in ∼ 50% of all types of human cancers. To restore wild-type p53 function in p53-inactivated tumors, adenovirus-mediated p53 gene therapy has been developed as a promising antitumor strategy in preclinical experiments and clinical studies.
Areas covered: This review focuses on the clinical relevance of replication-deficient adenovirus vectors that carry the wild-type p53 gene (Ad-p53; Advexin, Gendicine and SCH-58500) in clinical studies of patients with various cancers and the future perspectives regarding conditionally replicating adenovirus vectors expressing the wild-type p53 gene (CRAd-p53; AdDelta24-p53, SG600-p53, OBP-702) in preclinical experiments. Moreover, the recent advances in our understanding of the molecular basis for the p53-mediated tumor suppression network induced by Ad-p53 and CRAd-p53 vectors and the combination therapies for promoting the therapeutic potential of adenovirus-mediated p53 gene therapy are discussed.
Expert opinion: Exploration of the molecular mechanism underlying the p53-mediated tumor suppression network and the effective strategy for enhancing the p53-mediated cell death signaling pathway would provide novel insights into the improvement of clinical outcome in p53-based cancer gene therapy.