Viral Pathogens as Therapeutic Delivery Vehicles
The term patho‑biotechnology describes the exploitation of pathogenic bacteria for beneficial applications in food and biomedicine. We propose extending this definition to include viruses, for several reasons. Viruses, as well as providing a threat to human and animal health, can be used for benefit, via the generation of recombinant viruses. Recent advances in molecular biology have made it possible to manipulate and introduce DNA into cells and organisms. An extension of this approach is to use this technology to manipulate viruses to carry ‘foreign’ genes (transgenes) into defective cells, in order to correct defects. Several different viruses have been used as viral vectors (mainly Retroviruses, Adenoviruses, Adeno‑Associated Virus, Herpes Simplex virus and Vaccinia virus). All of these viruses have advantages and disadvantages, due to their inherent properties (i.e., size constraints, cell tropism, risk of cell transformation, toxic products and immune response generated). The biology of each virus, how it interacts with the host and the generation of the immune response, are all factors that must be taken into account when considering a particular viral vector. Viral vectors have enormous potential for the delivery of therapeutic genes into diseased tissues. However, further development, especially regarding safety issues, will be required in many instances, before gene therapy becomes standard.