The concept to use herpes virus to kill cancer led to its application that is now advancing from the laboratory the bench to the bedside. In a relatively short period of time, herpesviruses have been characterized, genetically modified, redirected to treat malignant disease, and utilized in numerous preclinical studies. Furthermore, several oncolytic viral mutants have been used in phase I trials that have demonstrated their safety in humans, with sporadic reports of antitumor efficacy. In addition, both replication-competent and replication-incompetent herpesviruses have been utilized for therapeutic transgene expression in the treatment of cancer. Future work must be focused on ways to enhance viral targeting without sacrificing oncolytic activity and to determine how best to combine oncolytic agents with conventional cancer treatments.
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