Oncolytic Newcastle Disease Virus for Cancer Therapy

Dmitriy Zamarin; Peter Palese


Future Microbiol. 2012;7(3):347-367. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Newcastle disease virus (NDV) is an avian paramyxovirus, which has been demonstrated to possess significant oncolytic activity against mammalian cancers. This review summarizes the research leading to the elucidation of the mechanisms of NDV-mediated oncolysis, as well as the development of novel oncolytic agents through the use of genetic engineering. Clinical trials utilizing NDV strains and NDV-based autologous tumor cell vaccines will expand our knowledge of these novel anticancer strategies and will ultimately result in the successful use of the virus in the clinical setting.


"The most striking sign of leukemia, the excess of leukocytes, disappears, and sometimes the spleen and lymph glands return to their normal size. Yet that the change is not wholly favorable appears from the fact that no case has really recovered … Considering the hopelessness of the ordinary treatment of leukemia, it seems that carefully planned experiments, either with bacterial products or organ extracts, might show a more safe and permanent result."

– Dock G (1904).[1]

The idea of using bacteria and viruses for treatment of human malignancies initially stemmed from observations during the mid-1800s of tumor regressions that were associated with natural infections.[1] Development of cell and virus culture techniques in the early 1950s led to intensive exploration of virus therapy in small animal tumor models and eventually in humans.[2] Due to significant virulence associated with the use of some of the human pathogens, animal viruses were explored as an alternative, with Newcastle disease virus (NDV) becoming a promising oncolytic agent.[3–13] This review will summarize the developments in the field of NDV cancer therapy, including the delineation of the mechanism of its oncolytic specificity, clinical trials and recent advancements with the advent of genetic engineering.


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