Gene therapy was initially envisaged as a potential treatment for genetically inherited, monogenic disorders. The applications of gene therapy have now become wider, however, and include cardiovascular diseases, vaccination and cancers in which conventional therapies have failed. With regard to oncology, various gene therapy approaches have been developed. Among them, the use of genetic toxins to kill cancer cells selectively is emerging. Two different types of genetic toxins have been developed so far: the metabolic toxins and the dominant-negative class of toxins. This review describes these two different approaches, and discusses their potential applications in cancer gene therapy.
Keywords: cancer, gene therapy, suicide gene