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Review Article

Taming the Trojan horse: optimizing dynamic carrier cell/oncolytic virus systems for cancer biotherapy


Live cells offer unique advantages as vehicles for systemic oncolytic virus (OV) delivery. Recent studies from our laboratory and others have shown that virus-infected cells can serve as Trojan horse vehicles to evade antiviral mechanisms encountered in the bloodstream, prevent uptake by off-target tissues and act as microscale factories to produce OV upon arrival in tumor beds. However to be employed effectively, OV-infected cells are best viewed as dynamic biological systems rather than static therapeutic agents. The time-dependent processes of infection and in vivo cell trafficking will inevitably vary depending on which particular OV is being delivered, as well as the type of carrier cells (CC) employed. Understanding these parameters with respect to each unique CC/OV combination will therefore be required in order to effectively evaluate and harness their potential in preclinical study. In the following review, we discuss how early studies of OV delivery led us to investigate the use of cell carriers in our laboratory, and the approaches we are currently undertaking to compare the dynamics of different CC/OV systems. On the basis of these studies and others it is apparent that the success of any cell-based system for OV delivery rests upon the coordinated timing of three sequential phases—(1) ex vivo loading, (2) stealth delivery and (3) virus production at the tumor site. While at the current time, the timing of these processes are coupled to the natural cycle of infection and in vivo trafficking properties innate to each cell virus system, a quantitative delineation of their dynamics will lay the foundation for engineering CC/OV biotherapeutic systems that can be clinically deployed in a highly directed and controlled manner.

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Correspondence to J C Bell.

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Power, A., Bell, J. Taming the Trojan horse: optimizing dynamic carrier cell/oncolytic virus systems for cancer biotherapy. Gene Ther 15, 772–779 (2008).

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  • vesicular stomatitis virus
  • oncolytic virus
  • cancer therapeutics
  • immunity
  • cell-based delivery
  • biotherapeutics

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