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Future Virol. 2017 Apr;12(4):193-213. doi: 10.2217/fvl-2016-0129. Epub 2017 Mar 31.

Designing and building oncolytic viruses.

Author information

Department of Molecular Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Oncolytic viruses (OVs) are engineered and/or evolved to propagate selectively in cancerous tissues. They have a dual mechanism of action; direct killing of infected cancer cells cross-primes anticancer immunity to boost the killing of uninfected cancer cells. The goal of the field is to develop OVs that are easily manufactured, efficiently delivered to disseminated sites of cancer growth, undergo rapid intratumoral spread, selectively kill tumor cells, cause no collateral damage and pose no risk of transmission in the population. Here we discuss the many virus engineering strategies that are being pursued to optimize delivery, intratumoral spread and safety of OVs derived from different virus families. With continued progress, OVs have the potential to transform the paradigm of cancer care.


cancer therapy; oncolytic immunotherapy; oncolytic virotherapy; virus engineering; virus targeting

Conflict of interest statement

Financial & competing interests disclosure Stephen Russell is a cofounder, stakeholder, Board Member and officer (CEO) of Vyriad, an oncolytic virotherapy company. Dr. Kah-Whye Peng is a cofounder, stakeholder and officer (CTO) of Vyriad. Stephen Russell is NIH funded (CA186781-02A1P1). The authors have no other relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript apart from those disclosed. No writing assistance was utilized in the production of this manuscript.

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