Oncolytic viruses are one of the most promising novel therapeutics for malignant cancers. They selectively infect and kill cancer cells while sparing the normal counterparts, expose cancer- specific antigens and activate the host immune system against both viral and tumor determinants. Oncolytic viruses can be used as monotherapy or combined with existing cancer therapies to become more potent. Among the many types of oncolytic viruses that have been developed thus far, members of poxviruses are the most promising candidates against diverse cancer types. This review summarizes recent advances that are made with oncolytic myxoma virus (MYXV), a member of the Leporipoxvirus genus. Unlike other oncolytic viruses, MYXV infects only rabbits in nature and causes no harm to humans or any other non-leporid animals. However, MYXV can selectively infect and kill cancer cells originating from human, mouse and other host species. This selective cancer tropism and safety profile have led to the testing of MYXV in various types of preclinical cancer models. The next stage will be successful GMP manufacturing and clinical trials that will bring MYXV from bench to bedside for the treatment of currently intractable malignancies.
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