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Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(22):3313-20.

Radiovirotherapy: principles and prospects in oncology.

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The Institute of Cancer Research, Targeted Therapy Laboratory, Division of Cancer Biology, London, United Kingdom.


Radiovirotherapy is defined as the use of viruses to deliver radioisotopic treatment into infected cells. Oncolytic viruses are able to selectively target and kill cancer cells. The combination of oncolytic viruses and radiation therapies can have synergistic antitumour properties. Viruses may act as radiosensitizers, and radiations can increase viral oncolytic properties. The combination of oncolytic viruses with a virally-directed radioisotope therapy is an innovative method to combine viruses and radiation therapy, selectively within the tumour cells. The sodium/iodide symporter (NIS) is the main transgene that has been studied for this approach. NIS can mediate the uptake of isotopes of iodine and technetium 99m for in vivo gene expression imaging and therapy. This review highlights the principles of radiovirotherapy, and its recent progress. Better understanding of the regulation of NIS opens up pathways by which to potentiate the functional expression of NIS. In terms of the therapeutic isotope, Iodine-131 has been most frequently studied but other isotopes (astatine- 211, rhenium-188) are of growing interest. Oncolytic viruses are able to infect selectively and replicate in cancer cells and promising early phase clinical trials have been recently published. Their development allows a better selectivity of viral infection and adds a virus-specific cytotoxicity to the therapeutic approach. Active research into strategies such as immunosuppressive treatment and cell-based carrier systems is seeking to circumvent the host antiviral immune response and, thus, increase the potential for systemic delivery. Finally, other anticancer therapies such as chemotherapy and external beam radiotherapy may have a synergistic effect with radiovirotherapy and such combinatorial approaches offering the prospect of accelerated translation into clinical studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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