Oncolytic viruses (OVs) demonstrate the ability to replicate selectively in cancer cells, resulting in antitumor effects by a variety of mechanisms, including direct cell lysis and indirect cell death through immune-mediate host responses. Although the mechanisms of action of OVs are still not fully understood, major advances have been made in our understanding of how OVs function and interact with the host immune system, resulting in the recent FDA approval of the first OV for cancer therapy in the USA. This review provides an overview of the history of OVs, their selectivity for cancer cells, and their multifaceted mechanism of antitumor action, as well as strategies employed to augment selectivity and efficacy of OVs. OVs in combination with standard cancer therapies are also discussed, as well as a review of ongoing human clinical trials.
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