Cancer is a difficult target for any therapeutic strategy; therefore, there is a continuous search for new therapeutic modalities, for application either alone or in combination. In this regard, gene-based therapy is a new approach that offers hope of improved control of tumors. Intensive research to apply gene therapy for cancer treatment has led to identification of the most important technical and theoretical barriers that need to be overcome for clinical success. One of the central unresolved challenges remains the issue of specific and efficient delivery of genes to target cells or tissues, emphasizing the importance of the gene carrier. Along with different viral and non-viral vector systems, mammalian cells have also been considered as vehicles for delivery of anti-cancer therapeutics. The cell-based delivery approach was introduced as the first attempt to apply gene therapy to cancer treatment, and in general, has followed most of the ups and downs of gene therapy applications, progressing alongside new knowledge gained in this field. As a result, significant progress has been made in some aspects of the cell-based approach, while the development of other essential issues is only just gaining speed. It appears that the initial phase of development of cell-based protocols - the achievement of efficient ex vivo cell loading with therapeutics - has largely been fulfilled. However, the desired efficacy of cell-based strategies in general has not yet been reached, and specificity of tumor homing needs to be improved considerably. There is hope that advances in related scientific fields will promote the utilization of cells as powerful and versatile vehicles for cancer gene therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-385
Number of pages25
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2004


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