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Discov Med. 2010 Mar;9(46):192-6.

Crossing the boundaries: stem cells and gene therapy.

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  • 1Brain Tumor Center, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Oncolytic virotherapy is an emerging therapeutic modality for the treatment of cancer. It entails construction of viruses with the ability to selectively target and lyse tumor cells. This branch of therapy has significantly advanced in the past decade, heralded by the development of several novel viruses. Despite the initial success of oncolytic virotherapy in the preclinical setting, however, this treatment modality remains hindered by several obstacles. First, failure to achieve effective viral delivery to targeted tumor beds is a well known limitation. Second, the virus-neutralizing mechanisms of the host immune system, which are in place to protect from viral pathogens, may also hinder the therapeutic potential of virotherapy. One approach to tackling these shortcomings is the use of cell-based carriers to both help with delivery of the virus and shield it from immunosurveillance. Stem cells have recently surfaced as a potential cell-based candidate for delivery of virotherapy. Their unique migratory and immunosuppressive qualities have made them an exciting area of investigation. The focus of this review is to discuss the benefits of stem-cell-based delivery of oncolytic virotherapy and its role in cancer treatment.

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