Alphavirus vectors have been used for a wide range of applications including recombinant protein expression in cell lines, primary cell cultures and in vivo.
Vaccination against tumor challenges has also been frequently explored. Therapeutic effects have been seen after intratumoral injections in various animal models. The recent description of SIN vectors homing naturally to tumor tissue is a new and intriguing finding. This tumor targeting capability can be achieved in alphavirus vectors by introduction of target sequences into envelope genes or by the inclusion of virus particles into liposomes. This liposomal protection, furthermore, avoids host immune responses and, therefore, allows repeated vector applications. Engineering of novel, less cytotoxic vectors that lead to prolonged host cell survival will be beneficial for gene therapeutic approaches that base on the expression of immunostimulatory proteins. The current challenge of alphavirus vector production for future clinical trials is the development of vectors, host cell lines and technologies compatible with GMP standards.
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