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1.  Targeting of Interferon-Beta to Produce a Specific, Multi-Mechanistic Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e353.
Background
Oncolytic viruses hold much promise for clinical treatment of many cancers, but a lack of systemic delivery and insufficient tumor cell killing have limited their usefulness. We have previously demonstrated that vaccinia virus strains are capable of systemic delivery to tumors in mouse models, but infection of normal tissues remains an issue. We hypothesized that interferon-beta (IFN-β) expression from an oncolytic vaccinia strain incapable of responding to this cytokine would have dual benefits as a cancer therapeutic: increased anticancer effects and enhanced virus inactivation in normal tissues. We report the construction and preclinical testing of this virus.
Methods and Findings
In vitro screening of viral strains by cytotoxicity and replication assay was coupled to cellular characterization by phospho-flow cytometry in order to select a novel oncolytic vaccinia virus. This virus was then examined in vivo in mouse models by non-invasive imaging techniques. A vaccinia B18R deletion mutant was selected as the backbone for IFN-β expression, because the B18R gene product neutralizes secreted type-I IFNs. The oncolytic B18R deletion mutant demonstrated IFN-dependent cancer selectivity and efficacy in vitro, and tumor targeting and efficacy in mouse models in vivo. Both tumor cells and tumor-associated vascular endothelial cells were targeted. Complete tumor responses in preclinical models were accompanied by immune-mediated protection against tumor rechallenge. Cancer selectivity was also demonstrated in primary human tumor explant tissues and adjacent normal tissues. The IFN-β gene was then cloned into the thymidine kinase (TK) region of this virus to create JX-795 (TK−/B18R−/IFN-β+). JX-795 had superior tumor selectivity and systemic intravenous efficacy when compared with the TK−/B18R− control or wild-type vaccinia in preclinical models.
Conclusions
By combining IFN-dependent cancer selectivity with IFN-β expression to optimize both anticancer effects and normal tissue antiviral effects, we were able to achieve, to our knowledge for the first time, tumor-specific replication, IFN-β gene expression, and efficacy following systemic delivery in preclinical models.
Stephen Thorne and colleagues describe, in a mouse model, an oncolytic vaccinia virus with interferon-dependent cancer selectivity that allows tumor-specific replication; it also expresses the IFN-β gene and hence has efficacy against tumors.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Normally, throughout life, cell division (which produces new cells) and cell death are carefully balanced to keep the body in good working order. But sometimes cells acquire changes (mutations) in their genetic material that allow them to divide uncontrollably to form cancers—disorganized masses of cells. Cancers can develop anywhere in the body and, as they develop, their cells acquire other genetic changes that enable them to move and start new tumors (metastases) elsewhere. Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly dividing cancer cells but, because some normal cells are also sensitive to these drugs, it is hard to destroy the cancer without causing serious side effects. Consequently, researchers are trying to develop “targeted” therapies that attack the changes in cancer cells that allow them to divide uncontrollably but leave normal cells unscathed. One promising class of targeted therapies is oncolytic viruses. These viruses make numerous copies of themselves inside cancer cells (but not inside normal cells). Eventually the cancer cell bursts open (lyses), releases more of the therapeutic agent, and dies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Existing oncolytic viruses have two major disadvantages: they have to be injected directly into tumors, and therefore they can't destroy distant metastases; and they don't kill cancer cells particularly efficiently. In this study, the researchers have tried to adapt vaccinia virus (a virus that infects humans and which has recently been shown to kill tumor cells when injected into the bloodstream) in two ways: to both infect cancer cells selectively and then to kill them effectively.
They hypothesized that putting a gene that causes expression of a protein called interferon-beta (IFN-β) in a particular virus strain that is itself incapable of responding to IFN-β might achieve these aims. Human cells infected with viruses usually release IFNs, which induce an antiviral state in nearby cells. But vaccinia virus makes anti-IFN proteins that prevent IFN release. If the viral genes that encode these proteins are removed from the virus, the virus cannot spread through normal cells. However, many cancer cells have defective IFN signaling pathways so the virus can spread through them. IFN-β expression by the virus, however, should improve its innate anticancer effects because IFN-β stops cancer cells dividing, induces an antitumor immune response, and stops tumors developing good blood supplies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers selected a vaccinia virus strain called WR-delB18R in which the B18R gene, which encodes an anti-IFN protein, had been removed from the virus. (WR is a wild-type virus.) In laboratory experiments, IFN treatment blocked the spread of WR-delB18R in normal human cells but not in human tumor cells. After being injected into the veins of tumor-bearing mice, WR-delB18R was rapidly cleared from normal tissues but persisted in the tumors. A single injection of WR-delB18R directly into the tumor killed most of the tumor cells. A similar dose injected into a vein was less effective but nevertheless increased the survival time of some of the mice by directly killing the tumor cells, by targeting the blood supply of the tumors, and by inducing antitumor immunity. Finally, when the researchers inserted the IFN-β gene into this WR-delB18R, the new virus—JX-795—was much better at killing tumors after intravenous injection than either WR or WR-delB18R.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the vaccinia virus can be adapted so that it replicates only in tumor cells and kills these cells effectively after intravenous injection. In particular, they show that the strategy adopted by the researchers both optimizes the anticancer effects of the virus and minimizes viral replication in normal tissues. JX-795 is a promising oncolytic virus, therefore, particularly since vaccinia virus has been safely used for many years to vaccinate people against smallpox. Nevertheless, it will be some years before JX-795 can be used clinically. Vaccinia virus constructs like this need to be tested extensively in the laboratory and in animals before any attempt is made to test them in people and, even if they passes all these preclinical tests with flying colors, only clinical trials will reveal whether they can treat human cancer. Several related strains of vaccinia virus are currently undergoing clinical testing.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040353.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information on all aspects of cancer (in English and Spanish)
CancerQuest, from Emory University, provides information on all aspects of cancer (in several languages)
The UK charity Cancerbackup also provides information on all aspects of cancer
Wikipedia has a page on oncolytic viruses (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
A short interview about oncolytic viruses with researcher Dr. John Bell is available on the Insidermedicine Web site
The Oncolytic virus Web page provides lists of oncolytic viruses classified by type
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040353
PMCID: PMC2222946  PMID: 18162040
2.  Antiglioma oncolytic virotherapy: unattainable goal or a success story in the making? 
Future virology  2013;8(7):675-693.
Initial observations from as early as the mid-1800s suggested that patients suffering from hematological malignancies would transiently go into remission upon naturally contracting viral infections laid the foundation for the oncolytic virotherapy research field. Since then, research focusing on anticancer oncolytic virotherapy has rapidly evolved. Today, oncolytic viral vectors have been engineered to stimulate and manipulate the host immune system, selectively targeting tumor tissues while sparing non-neoplastic cells. Glioblastoma multiforme, the most common adult primary brain tumor, has a disasterous history. It is one of the most deadly cancers known to humankind. Over the last century our understanding of this disease has grown exponentially. However, the median survival of patients suffering from this disease has only been extended by a few months. Even with the best, most aggressive modern therapeutic approaches available, malignant gliomas are still virtually 100% fatal. Motivated by the desperate need to find effective treatment strategies, more investments have been applied to oncolytic virotherapy preclinical and clinical studies. In this review we will discuss the antiglioma oncolytic virotherapy research field. We will survey its history and the principles laid down to serve as basis for preclinical works. We will also debate the variety of viral vectors used, their clinical applications, the lessons learned from clinical trials and possible future directions.
doi:10.2217/fvl.13.47
PMCID: PMC4043995  PMID: 24910708
glioblastoma multiforme; malignant glioma; oncolytic virus; virotherapy
3.  Immune Suppression during Oncolytic Virotherapy for High-Grade Glioma; Yes or No? 
Journal of Cancer  2015;6(3):203-217.
Oncolytic viruses have been seriously considered for glioma therapy over the last 20 years. The oncolytic activity of several oncolytic strains has been demonstrated against human glioma cell lines and in in vivo xenotransplant models. So far, four of these stains have additionally completed the first phase I/II trials in relapsed glioma patients. Though safety and feasibility have been demonstrated, therapeutic efficacy in these initial trials, when described, was only minor. The role of the immune system in oncolytic virotherapy for glioma remained much less studied until recent years. When investigated, the immune system, adept at controlling viral infections, is often hypothesized to be a strong hurdle to successful oncolytic virotherapy. Several preclinical studies have therefore aimed to improve oncolytic virotherapy efficacy by combining it with immune suppression or evasion strategies. More recently however, a new paradigm has developed in the oncolytic virotherapy field stating that oncolytic virus-mediated tumor cell death can be accompanied by elicitation of potent activation of innate and adaptive anti-tumor immunity that greatly improves the efficacy of certain oncolytic strains. Therefore, it seems the three-way interaction between oncolytic virus, tumor and immune system is critical to the outcome of antitumor therapy. In this review we discuss the studies which have investigated how the immune system and oncolytic viruses interact in models of glioma. The novel insights generated here hold important implications for future research and should be incorporated into the design of novel clinical trials.
doi:10.7150/jca.10640
PMCID: PMC4317755  PMID: 25663937
glioblastoma; oncolytic virotherapy; antitumor immunity
4.  Mitophagy Enhances Oncolytic Measles Virus Replication by Mitigating DDX58/RIG-I-Like Receptor Signaling 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(9):5152-5164.
ABSTRACT
The success of future clinical trials with oncolytic viruses depends on the identification and the control of mechanisms that modulate their therapeutic efficacy. In particular, little is known about the role of autophagy in infection by attenuated measles virus of the Edmonston strain (MV-Edm). We investigated the interaction between autophagy, innate immune response, and oncolytic activity of MV-Edm, since the antiviral immune response is a known factor limiting virotherapies. We report that MV-Edm exploits selective autophagy to mitigate the innate immune response mediated by DDX58/RIG-I like receptors (RLRs) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Both RNA interference (RNAi) and overexpression approaches demonstrate that autophagy enhances viral replication and inhibits the production of type I interferons regulated by RLRs. We show that MV-Edm unexpectedly triggers SQSTM1/p62-mediated mitophagy, resulting in decreased mitochondrion-tethered mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS) and subsequently weakening the innate immune response. These results unveil a novel infectious strategy based on the usurpation of mitophagy leading to mitigation of the innate immune response. This finding provides a rationale to modulate autophagy in oncolytic virotherapy.
IMPORTANCE In vitro studies, preclinical experiments in vivo, and clinical trials with humans all indicate that oncolytic viruses hold promise for cancer therapy. Measles virus of the Edmonston strain (MV-Edm), which is an attenuated virus derived from the common wild-type measles virus, is paradigmatic for therapeutic oncolytic viruses. MV-Edm replicates preferentially in and kills cancer cells. The efficiency of MV-Edm is limited by the immune response of the host against viruses. In our study, we revealed that MV-Edm usurps a homeostatic mechanism of intracellular degradation of mitochondria, coined mitophagy, to attenuate the innate immune response in cancer cells. This strategy might provide a replicative advantage for the virus against the development of antiviral immune responses by the host. These findings are important since they may not only indicate that inducers of autophagy could enhance the efficacy of oncolytic therapies but also provide clues for antiviral therapy by targeting SQSTM1/p62-mediated mitophagy.
doi:10.1128/JVI.03851-13
PMCID: PMC3993837  PMID: 24574393
5.  Clinical testing of engineered oncolytic measles virus strains in the treatment of cancer: An overview 
Viruses have adapted through millennia of evolution to effectively invade and lyse cells through diverse mechanisms. Strains of the attenuated measles virus Edmonston (MV-Edm) vaccine lineage can preferentially infect and destroy cancerous cells while sparing the surrounding tissues. This specificity is predominantly due to overexpression of the measles virus receptor CD46 in tumor cells. To facilitate in vivo monitoring of viral gene expression and replication, these oncolytic strains have been engineered to either express soluble marker peptides, such as the human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA; MV-CEA virus), or genes that facilitate imaging and therapy, such as the human thyroidal sodium iodide symporter (NIS) gene (MV-NIS). Preclinical efficacy and safety data for engineered oncolytic MV-Edm derivatives that led to their clinical translation are discussed in this review, and an overview of the early experience in three ongoing clinical trials of patients with ovarian cancer, glioblastoma multiforme and multiple myeloma is provided. The information obtained from these ongoing trials will guide the future clinical application and further development of MV strains as anticancer agents.
PMCID: PMC2717625  PMID: 19169959
Brain tumor; clinical trial; measles virus; multiple myeloma; ovarian cancer; virotherapy
6.  Oncolytic Myxoma Virus: The path to clinic 
Vaccine  2013;31(39):4252-4258.
Many common neoplasms are still noncurative with current standards of cancer therapy. More therapeutic modalities need to be developed to significantly prolong the lives of patients and eventually cure a wider spectrum of cancers. Oncolytic virotherapy is one of the promising new additions to clinical cancer therapeutics. Successful oncolytic virotherapy in the clinic will be those strategies that best combine tumor cell oncolysis with enhanced immune responses against tumor antigens. The current candidate oncolytic viruses all share the common property that they are relatively nonpathogenic to humans, yet they have the ability to replicate selectively in human cancer cells and induce cancer regression by direct oncolysis and/or induction of improved anti-tumor immune responses. Many candidate oncolytic viruses are in various stages of clinical and preclinical development. One such preclinical candidate is myxoma virus (MYXV), a member of the Poxviridae family that, in its natural setting, exhibits a very restricted host range and is only pathogenic to European rabbits. Despite its narrow host range in nature, MYXV has been shown to productively infect various classes of human cancer cells. Several preclinical in vivo modeling studies have demonstrated that MYXV is an attractive and safe candidate oncolytic virus, and hence, MYXV is currently being developed as a potential therapeutic for several cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, glioblastoma, ovarian cancer, melanoma, and hematologic malignancies. This review highlights the preclinical cancer models that have shown the most promise for translation of MYXV into human clinical trials.
doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.05.056
PMCID: PMC3755036  PMID: 23726825
Myxoma Virus; Oncolytic Virotherapy; Hematological Malignancies; Pancreatic Cancer
7.  Oncolytic herpes simplex virus vectors and chemotherapy: are combinatorial strategies more effective for cancer? 
Despite aggressive treatments, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, cancers often recur owing to resistance to conventional therapies. Oncolytic viruses such as oncolytic herpes simplex virus (oHSV) represent an exciting biological approach to cancer therapy. A range of viral mutations has been engineered into HSV to engender oncolytic activity. While oHSV as a single agent has been tested in a number of cancer clinical trials, preclinical studies have demonstrated enhanced efficacy when it is combined with cytotoxic anticancer drugs. Among the strategies that will be discussed in this article are combinations with standard-of-care chemotherapeutics, expression of prodrug-activating enzymes to enhance chemotherapy and small-molecule inhibitors. The combination of oHSV and chemotherapy can achieve much more efficient cancer cell killing than either single agent alone, often through synergistic interactions. This can be clinically important not just for improving efficacy but also for permitting lower and less toxic chemotherapeutic doses. The viral mutations in an oHSV vector often determine the favorability of its interactions with chemotherapy, just as different cancer cells, due to genetic alterations, vary in their response to chemotherapy. As chemotherapeutics are often the standard of care, combining them with an investigational new drug, such as oHSV, is clinically easier than combining multiple novel agents. As has become clear for most cancer therapies, multimodal treatments are usually more effective. In this article, we will discuss the recent progress of these combinatorial strategies between virotherapy and chemotherapy and future directions.
doi:10.2217/fon.10.18
PMCID: PMC2904234  PMID: 20373873
cancer drug; chemotherapeutics; combination therapy; herpes simplex virus; oncolytic virus; prodrug activation; virotherapy
8.  Progress in oncolytic virotherapy for the treatment of thyroid malignant neoplasm 
Thyroid malignant neoplasm develops from follicular or parafollicular thyroid cells. A higher proportion of anaplastic thyroid cancer has an adverse prognosis. New drugs are being used in clinical treatment. However, for advanced thyroid malignant neoplasm such as anaplastic thyroid carcinoma, the major impediment to successful control of the disease is the absence of effective therapies. Oncolytic virotherapy has significantly progressed as therapeutics in recent years. The advance is that oncolytic viruses can be designed with biological specificity to infect, replicate and lyse tumor cells. Significant advances in virotherapy have being achieved to improve the accessibility, safety and efficacy of the treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to summarize and bring together the main areas covered by these investigations for the virotherapy of thyroid malignant neoplasm. We provide an overview of the progress in virotherapy research and clinical trials, which employ virotherapy for thyroid malignant neoplasm as well as the future prospect for virotherapy of thyroid malignant neoplasms.
doi:10.1186/s13046-014-0091-8
PMCID: PMC4242545  PMID: 25366264
Oncolytic virotherapy; Thyroid malignant neoplasm; Thyroid cell biomarker
9.  Trial watch 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(6):e24612.
Oncolytic virotherapy is emerging as a promising approach for the treatment of several neoplasms. The term “oncolytic viruses” is generally employed to indicate naturally occurring or genetically engineered attenuated viral particles that cause the demise of malignant cells while sparing their non-transformed counterparts. From a conceptual standpoint, oncolytic viruses differ from so-called “oncotropic viruses” in that only the former are able to kill cancer cells, even though both display a preferential tropism for malignant tissues. Of note, such a specificity can originate at several different steps of the viral cycle, including the entry of virions (transductional specificity) as well as their intracellular survival and replication (post-transcriptional and transcriptional specificity). During the past two decades, a large array of replication-competent and replication-incompetent oncolytic viruses has been developed and engineered to express gene products that would specifically promote the death of infected (cancer) cells. However, contrarily to long-standing beliefs, the antineoplastic activity of oncolytic viruses is not a mere consequence of the cytopathic effect, i.e., the lethal outcome of an intense, productive viral infection, but rather involves the elicitation of an antitumor immune response. In line with this notion, oncolytic viruses genetically modified to drive the local production of immunostimulatory cytokines exert more robust therapeutic effects than their non-engineered counterparts. Moreover, the efficacy of oncolytic virotherapy is significantly improved by some extent of initial immunosuppression (facilitating viral replication and spread) followed by the administration of immunostimulatory molecules (boosting antitumor immune responses). In this Trial Watch, we will discuss the results of recent clinical trials that have evaluated/are evaluating the safety and antineoplastic potential of oncolytic virotherapy.
doi:10.4161/onci.24612
PMCID: PMC3716755  PMID: 23894720
GM-CSF; HSV; immunotherapy; JX594; reolysin; talimogene laherparepvec
10.  Replicating viral vectors for cancer therapy: strategies to synergize with host immune responses 
Microbial biotechnology  2012;5(2):251-259.
Summary
Tumour‐specific replicating (oncolytic) viruses are novel anticancer agents, currently under intense investigation in preclinical studies and phase I–III clinical trials. Until recently, most studies have focused on the direct antitumour properties of these viruses. There is now an increasing body of evidence indicating that host immune responses may be critical to the efficacy of oncolytic virotherapy. Although the immune response to oncolytic viruses can rapidly restrict viral replication, thereby limiting the efficacy of therapy, oncolytic virotherapy also has the potential to induce potent antitumoural immune effectors that destroy those cancer cells, which are not directly lysed by virus. In this review, we discuss the role of the immune system in terms of antiviral and antitumoural responses, as well as strategies to evade or promote these responses in favour of improved therapeutic potentials.
doi:10.1111/j.1751-7915.2011.00296.x
PMCID: PMC3815785  PMID: 21923638
11.  Infection and Killing of Multiple Myeloma by Adenoviruses 
Human Gene Therapy  2009;21(2):179-190.
Abstract
Oncolytic virotherapy makes use of the natural ability of viruses to infect and kill cancer cells. Adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) has been approved for use in humans as a therapy for solid cancers. In this study, we have tested whether Ad5 and low-seroprevalence adenoviruses can be used as oncolytics for multiple myeloma (MM). We show that Ad5 productively infects most myeloma cell lines, replicates to various degrees, and mediates oncolytic cell killing in vitro and in vivo. Comparison of Ad5 with low-seroprevalence Ads on primary marrow samples from MM patients revealed striking differences in the abilities of different adenoviral serotypes to kill normal CD138– cells and CD138+ MM cells. Ad5 and Ad6 from species C and Ad26 and Ad48 from species D all mediated killing of CD138+ cells with low-level killing of CD138– cells. In contrast, Ad11, Ad35, Ad40, and Ad41 mediated weak oncolytic effects in all of the cells. Comparison of cell binding, cell entry, and replication revealed that Ad11 and Ad35 bound MM cells 10 to 100 times better than other serotypes. However, after this efficient interaction, Ad11 and Ad35 viral DNA was not replicated and cell killing did not occur. In contrast, Ad5, Ad6, Ad26, and Ad48 all replicated 10- to 100-fold in MM cells and this correlated with cell killing. These data suggest that Ad5 and other low-seroprevalence adenoviruses may have utility as oncolytic agents against MM and other hematologic malignancies.
doi:10.1089/hum.2009.082
PMCID: PMC2829453  PMID: 19788385
12.  Potent systemic therapy of Multiple Myeloma utilizing Oncolytic Vesicular stomatitis virus coding for Interferon-beta 
Cancer Gene Therapy  2012;19(7):443-450.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable malignancy of plasma secreting B-cells disseminated in the bone marrow. Successful utilization of oncolytic virotherapy for myeloma treatment requires a systemically administered virus that selectively destroys disseminated myeloma cells in an immune-competent host. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing Interferon-β (IFNβ) is a promising new oncolytic agent that exploits tumor-associated defects in innate immune signaling pathways to specifically destroy cancer cells. We demonstrate here that a single, intravenous dose of VSV-IFNβ specifically destroys subcutaneous and disseminated 5TGM1 myeloma in an immune competent myeloma model. VSV-IFN treatment significantly prolonged survival in mice bearing orthotopic myeloma. Viral murine IFNβ expression further delayed myeloma progression and significantly enhanced survival compared to VSV expressing human IFNβ. Evaluation of VSV-IFNβ oncolytic activity in human myeloma cell lines and primary patient samples confirmed myeloma specific oncolytic activity but revealed variable susceptibility to VSV-IFNβ oncolysis. The results indicate that VSV-IFNβ is a potent, safe oncolytic agent that can be systemically administered to effectively target and destroy disseminated myeloma in immune competent mice. IFNβ expression improves cancer specificity and enhances VSV therapeutic efficacy against disseminated myeloma. These data show VSV-IFNβ to be a promising vector for further development as a potential therapy for treatment of Multiple myeloma.
doi:10.1038/cgt.2012.14
PMCID: PMC3380174  PMID: 22522623
Oncolytic; virotherapy; myeloma; Vesicular stomatitis virus; systemic
13.  Treatment of medulloblastoma with oncolytic measles viruses expressing the angiogenesis inhibitors endostatin and angiostatin 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:206.
Background
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of pediatric brain tumor. Although numerous factors influence patient survival rates, more than 30% of all cases will ultimately be refractory to conventional therapies. Current standards of care are also associated with significant morbidities, giving impetus for the development of new treatments. We have previously shown that oncolytic measles virotherapy is effective against medulloblastoma, leading to significant prolongation of survival and even cures in mouse xenograft models of localized and metastatic disease. Because medulloblastomas are known to be highly vascularized tumors, we reasoned that the addition of angiogenesis inhibitors could further enhance the efficacy of oncolytic measles virotherapy. Toward this end, we have engineered an oncolytic measles virus that express a fusion protein of endostatin and angiostatin, two endogenous and potent inhibitors of angiogenesis.
Methods
Oncolytic measles viruses encoding human and mouse variants of a secretable endostatin/angiostatin fusion protein were designed and rescued according to established protocols. These viruses, known as MV-hE:A and MV-mE:A respectively, were then evaluated for their anti-angiogenic potential and efficacy against medulloblastoma cell lines and orthotopic mouse models of localized disease.
Results
Medulloblastoma cells infected by MV-E:A readily secrete endostatin and angiostatin prior to lysis. The inclusion of the endostatin/angiostatin gene did not negatively impact the measles virus’ cytotoxicity against medulloblastoma cells or alter its growth kinetics. Conditioned media obtained from these infected cells was capable of inhibiting multiple angiogenic factors in vitro, significantly reducing endothelial cell tube formation, viability and migration compared to conditioned media derived from cells infected by a control measles virus. Mice that were given a single intratumoral injection of MV-E:A likewise showed reduced numbers of tumor-associated blood vessels and a trend for increased survival compared to mice treated with the control virus.
Conclusions
These data suggest that oncolytic measles viruses encoding anti-angiogenic proteins may have therapeutic benefit against medulloblastoma and support ongoing efforts to target angiogenesis in medulloblastoma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-206
PMCID: PMC3995427  PMID: 24646176
Oncolytic measles virus; Angiogenesis; Endostatin; Angiostatin; Medulloblastoma
14.  Oncosuppressive Suicide Gene Virotherapy “PVH1-yCD/5-FC” for Pancreatic Peritoneal Carcinomatosis Treatment: NFκB and Akt/PI3K Involvement 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70594.
Peritoneal carcinomatosis is common in advanced pancreatic cancer. Despite current standard treatment, patients with this disease until recently were considered incurable. Cancer gene therapy using oncolytic viruses have generated much interest over the past few years. Here, we investigated a new gene directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT) approach for an oncosuppressive virotherapy strategy using parvovirus H1 (PV-H1) which preferentially replicates and kills malignant cells. Although, PV-H1 is not potent enough to destroy tumors, it represents an attractive vector for cancer gene therapy. We therefore sought to determine whether the suicide gene/prodrug system, yCD/5-FC could be rationally combined to PV-H1 augmenting its intrinsic oncolytic activity for pancreatic cancer prevention and treatment. We showed that the engineered recombinant parvovirus rPVH1-yCD with 5-FC treatment increased significantly the intrinsic cytotoxic effect and resulted in potent induction of apoptosis and tumor growth inhibition in chemosensitive and chemoresistant cells. Additionally, the suicide gene-expressing PV-H1 infection reduced significantly the constitutive activities of NFκB and Akt/PI3K. Combination of their pharmacological inhibitors (MG132 and LY294002) with rPVH1-yCD/5-FC resulted in substantial increase of antitumor activity. In vivo, high and sustained expression of NS1 and yCD was observed in the disseminated tumor nodules and absent in normal tissues. Treatment of mice bearing intraperitoneal pancreatic carcinomatosis with rPVH1-yCD/5-FC resulted in a drastic inhibition of tumor cell spreading and subsequent increase in long-term survival. Together, the presented data show the improved oncolytic activity of wPV-H1 by yCD/5-FC and thus provides valuable effective and promising virotherapy strategy for prevention of tumor recurrence and treatment. In the light of this study, the suicide gene parvovirotherapy approach represents a new weapon in the war against pancreatic cancer. Moreover, these preliminary accomplishments are opening new field for future development of new combined targeted therapies to have a meaningful impact on advanced cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070594
PMCID: PMC3743896  PMID: 23967078
15.  Oncolytic Measles Virus Encoding Thyroidal Sodium Iodide Symporter for Squamous Cell Cancer of the Head and Neck Radiovirotherapy 
Human Gene Therapy  2011;23(3):295-301.
Abstract
Oncolytic measles virus (MV) encoding the human thyroidal sodium iodide symporter (MV-NIS) has proved to be safe after intraperitoneal or intravenous administration in patients with ovarian cancer or multiple myeloma, respectively, but it has not yet been administered through intratumoral injection in humans. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck (SCCHN) usually is locally invasive and spreads to the cervical lymph nodes, which are suitable for the intratumoral administration of oncolytic viruses. To test whether oncolytic MV is an effective treatment for SCCHN, we used oncolytic MV-NIS to infect SCCHN in vitro and in vivo. The data show that SCCHN cells were infected and killed by MV-NIS in vitro. Permissiveness of the tumor cells to MV infection was not affected by irradiation after viral addition. Monitored noninvasively through radioiodine-based single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography, intratumorally virus-delivered NIS has concentrated the radioiodine in the MV-NIS–treated tumors in the FaDu mouse xenograft model of human SCCHN, and the antitumor effect could be boosted significantly (p<0.05) either with concomitant cyclophosphamide therapy or with appropriately timed administration of radioiodine 131I. MV-NIS could be a promising new anticancer agent that may substantially enhance the outcomes of standard therapy after intratumoral administration in patients with locally advanced SCCHN.
Li and colleagues investigate the use of oncolytic measles virus encoding human thyroidal sodium iodide symporter (MV-NIS) to treat squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) in vitro and in vivo. MV-NIS-treated tumors are able to concentrate administered radioiodine in a mouse xenograft model of human SCCHN, and the antitumor effect is significantly boosted by cyclophosphamide therapy.
doi:10.1089/hum.2011.128
PMCID: PMC3300082  PMID: 22235810
16.  ONCOLYTIC VIROTHERAPY 
Nature biotechnology  2012;30(7):10.1038/nbt.2287.
Oncolytic virotherapy is an emerging treatment modality which uses replication competent viruses to destroy cancers. Advances in the past two years include preclinical proof of feasibility for a single-shot virotherapy cure, identification of drugs that accelerate intratumoral virus propagation, new strategies to maximize the immunotherapeutic potential of oncolytic virotherapy, and clinical confirmation of a critical viremic thereshold for vascular delivery and intratumoral virus replication. The primary clinical milestone was completion of accrual in a phase III trial of intratumoral herpes simplex virus therapy using talimogene laherparepvec for metastatic melanoma. Challenges for the field are to select ‘winners’ from a burgeoning number of oncolytic platforms and engineered derivatives, to transiently suppress but then unleash the power of the immune system to maximize both virus spread and anticancer immunity, to develop more meaningful preclinical virotherapy models and to manufacture viruses with orders of magnitude higher yields compared to established vaccine manufacturing processes.
doi:10.1038/nbt.2287
PMCID: PMC3888062  PMID: 22781695
17.  Oncolytic virotherapy in veterinary medicine: current status and future prospects for canine patients 
Oncolytic viruses refer to those that are able to eliminate malignancies by direct targeting and lysis of cancer cells, leaving non-cancerous tissues unharmed. Several oncolytic viruses including adenovirus strains, canine distemper virus and vaccinia virus strains have been used for canine cancer therapy in preclinical studies. However, in contrast to human studies, clinical trials with oncolytic viruses for canine cancer patients have not been reported. An 'ideal' virus has yet to be identified. This review is focused on the prospective use of oncolytic viruses in the treatment of canine tumors - a knowledge that will undoubtedly contribute to the development of oncolytic viral agents for canine cancer therapy in the future.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-10-3
PMCID: PMC3398296  PMID: 22216938
cancer; canine cancer therapy; oncolytic virus; oncolysis; target molecule, combination therapy
18.  Oncolytic virotherapy for malignant glioma: translating laboratory insights into clinical practice 
Glioblastoma multiforme, one of the most common and aggressive brain tumors in adults, is highly resistant to currently available therapies and often recurs. Due to its poor prognosis and difficult management, there is an urgent need for the development and translation of new anti-glioma therapeutic approaches into the clinic. In this context, oncolytic virotherapy arises as an exciting treatment option for glioma patients. These natural or genetically engineered viruses are able to effectively infect cancer cells, inducing a specific anti-tumor cytotoxic effect. In addition, some viruses have been redesigned to modulate glioma microenvironment, to express cytokines to boost a systemic anti-glioma immune response and to incorporate angiostatic genes to decrease glioma vasculature. Although recent clinical trials have confirmed the safety of oncolytic virotherapies in the brain, their moderate clinical efficacy has not yet matched the encouraging preclinical laboratory results. In this review, we will discuss the leading anti-glioma virotherapy approaches that are presently under preclinical and clinical evaluation. We will also review different delivery methods, in vivo virus behavior, fate, replication, intratumoral spread, activation of anti-tumor immune response, and targeting of glioma stem cells. We will focus on the advantages and limitations of each therapeutic approach and how to overcome these hurdles to effectively translate exciting laboratory results into promising clinical trials.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2013.00032
PMCID: PMC3580888  PMID: 23443138
oncolytic virotherapy; malignant glioma; cancer stem cells; immunomodulation; challenges
19.  Trial Watch: 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e28694.
Oncolytic viruses are natural or genetically modified viral species that selectively infect and kill neoplastic cells. Such an innate or exogenously conferred specificity has generated considerable interest around the possibility to employ oncolytic viruses as highly targeted agents that would mediate cancer cell-autonomous anticancer effects. Accumulating evidence, however, suggests that the therapeutic potential of oncolytic virotherapy is not a simple consequence of the cytopathic effect, but strongly relies on the induction of an endogenous immune response against transformed cells. In line with this notion, superior anticancer effects are being observed when oncolytic viruses are engineered to express (or co-administered with) immunostimulatory molecules. Although multiple studies have shown that oncolytic viruses are well tolerated by cancer patients, the full-blown therapeutic potential of oncolytic virotherapy, especially when implemented in the absence of immunostimulatory interventions, remains unclear. Here, we cover the latest advances in this active area of translational investigation, summarizing high-impact studies that have been published during the last 12 months and discussing clinical trials that have been initiated in the same period to assess the therapeutic potential of oncolytic virotherapy in oncological indications.
doi:10.4161/onci.28694
PMCID: PMC4091053  PMID: 25097804
adenovirus; ColoAd1; mesenchymal stem cells; MV-NIS; reolysin; talimogene laherparepvec
20.  Theranostic Potential of Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus 
Theranostics  2012;2(4):363-373.
Biological cancer therapies, such as oncolytic, or replication-selective viruses have advantages over traditional therapeutics as they can employ multiple different mechanisms to target and destroy cancers (including direct cell lysis, immune activation and vascular collapse). This has led to their rapid recent clinical development. However this also makes their pre-clinical and clinical study complex, as many parameters may affect their therapeutic potential and so defining reason for treatment failure or approaches that might enhance their therapeutic activity can be complicated. The ability to non-invasively image viral gene expression in vivo both in pre-clinical models and during clinical testing will considerably enhance the speed of oncolytic virus development as well as increasing the level and type of useful data produced from these studies. Further, subsequent to future clinical approval, imaging of reporter gene expression might be used to evaluate the likelihood of response to oncolytic viral therapy prior to changes in tumor burden. Here different reporter genes used in conjunction with oncolytic viral therapy are described, along with the imaging modalities used to measure their expression, while their applications both in pre-clinical and clinical testing are discussed. Possible future applications for reporter gene expression from oncolytic viruses in the phenotyping of tumors and the personalizing of treatment regimens are also discussed.
doi:10.7150/thno.3724
PMCID: PMC3326721  PMID: 22509200
Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus; Theranostics
21.  Economic evaluation of therapies for patients suffering from relapsed-refractory multiple myeloma in Greece 
Background
Multiple myeloma is a hematologic malignancy that incurs a substantial economic burden in care management. Since most patients with multiple myeloma eventually relapse or become refractory to current therapies (rrMM), the aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of the combination of lenalidomide–dexamethasone, relative to bortezomib alone, in patients suffering from rrMM in Greece.
Methods
An international discrete event simulation model was locally adapted to estimate differences in overall survival and treatment costs associated with the two alternative treatment options. The efficacy data utilized came from three international trials (MM-009, MM-010, APEX). Quality of life data were extracted from the published literature. Data on resource use and prices came from relevant local sources and referred to 2012. The perspective of the analysis was that of public providers. Total costs for monitoring and administration of therapy to patients, management of adverse events, and cost of medication were captured. A 3.5% discount rate was used for costs and health outcomes. A Monte Carlo simulation was used to estimate probabilistic results with 95% uncertainty intervals (UI) and a cost-effectiveness acceptability curve.
Results
The mean number of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) was 3.01 (95% UI 2.81–3.20) and 2.22 (95% UI 2.02–2.41) for lenalidomide–dexamethasone and bortezomib, respectively, giving an incremental gain of 0.79 (95% UI 0.49–1.06) QALYs in favor of lenalidomide–dexamethasone. The mean cost of therapy per patient was estimated at €80;77,670 (95% UI €80;76,509–€80;78,900) and €80;48,928 (95% UI €80;48,300–€80;49,556) for lenalidomide–dexamethasone and bortezomib, respectively. The incremental cost per life year gained with lenalidomide–dexamethasone was estimated at €80;29,415 (95% UI €80;23,484–€80;37,583) and the incremental cost per QALY gained at €80;38,268 (95% UI €80;27,001–€80;58,065). The probability of lenalidomide–dexamethasone being a cost-effective therapy option at a threshold three times the per capita income (€80;60,000 per QALY) was higher than 95%. The results remained constant, without altering the conclusions, under several hypothetical scenarios.
Conclusion
The combination of lenalidomide and dexamethasone may represent a cost-effective choice relative to bortezomib monotherapy for patients in Greece with previously treated multiple myeloma.
doi:10.2147/CMAR.S43373
PMCID: PMC3627436  PMID: 23596356
multiple myeloma; economic evaluation; lenalidomide; dexamethasone; bortezomib
22.  Measles virus for cancer therapy 
Measles virus offers an ideal platform from which to build a new generation of safe, effective oncolytic viruses. Occasional "spontaneous" tumor regressions have occurred during natural measles infections, but common tumors do not express SLAM, the wild-type MV receptor, and are therefore not susceptible to the virus. Serendipitously, attenuated vaccine strains of measles virus have adapted to use CD46, a regulator of complement activation that is expressed in higher abundance on human tumor cells than on their non transformed counterparts. For this reason, attenuated measles viruses are potent and selective oncolytic agents showing impressive antitumor activity in mouse xenograft models. The viruses can be engineered to enhance their tumor specificity, increase their antitumor potency and facilitate noninvasive in vivo monitoring of their spread. A major impediment to the successful deployment of oncolytic measles viruses as anticancer agents is the high prevalence of pre-existing anti measles immunity, which impedes bloodstream delivery and curtails intratumoral virus spread. It is hoped that these problems can be addressed by delivering the virus inside measles-infected cell carriers and/or by concomitant administration of immunosuppressive drugs. From a safety perspective, population immunity provides an excellent defense against measles spread from patient to carers and, in fifty years of human experience, reversion of attenuated measles to a wild type pathogenic phenotype has not been observed. Clinical trials testing oncolytic measles viruses as an experimental cancer therapy are currently underway.
PMCID: PMC3926122  PMID: 19203112
23.  Attenuated and Protease-Profile Modified Sendai Virus Vectors as a New Tool for Virotherapy of Solid Tumors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90508.
Multiple types of oncolytic viruses are currently under investigation in clinical trials. To optimize therapeutic outcomes it is believed that the plethora of different tumor types will require a diversity of different virus types. Sendai virus (SeV), a murine parainfluenza virus, displays a broad host range, enters cells within minutes and already has been applied safely as a gene transfer vector in gene therapy patients. However, SeV spreading naturally is abrogated in human cells due to a lack of virus activating proteases. To enable oncolytic applications of SeV we here engineered a set of novel recombinant vectors by a two-step approach: (i) introduction of an ubiquitously recognized cleavage-motive into SeV fusion protein now enabling continuous spreading in human tissues, and (ii) profound attenuation of these rSeV by the knockout of viral immune modulating accessory proteins. When employing human hepatoma cell lines, newly generated SeV variants now reached high titers and induced a profound tumor cell lysis. In contrast, virus release from untransformed human fibroblasts or primary human hepatocytes was found to be reduced by about three log steps in a time course experiment which enables the cumulation of kinetic differences of the distinct phases of viral replication such as primary target cell infection, target cell replication, and progeny virus particle release. In a hepatoma xenograft animal model we found a tumor-specific spreading of our novel recombinant SeV vectors without evidence of biodistribution into non-malignant tissues. In conclusion, we successfully developed novel tumor-selective oncolytic rSeV vectors, constituting a new tool for virotherapy of solid tumors being ready for further preclinical and clinical development to address distinct tumor types.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090508
PMCID: PMC3944018  PMID: 24598703
24.  Acute Myeloid Leukemia Targeting by Myxoma Virus In Vivo Depends on Cell Binding But Not Permissiveness to Infection In Vitro 
Leukemia Research  2012;36(5):619-624.
Some oncolytic viruses, such as myxoma virus (MYXV), can selectively target malignant hematopoietic cells, while sparing normal hematopoietic cells. This capacity for discrimination creates an opportunity to use oncolytic viruses as ex vivo purging agents of autologous hematopoietic cell grafts in patients with hematologic malignancies. However, the mechanisms by which oncolytic viruses select malignant hematopoietic cells are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated how MYXV specifically targets human AML cells. MYXV prevented chloroma formation and bone marrow engraftment of two human AML cell lines, KG-1 and THP-1. The reduction in human leukemia engraftment after ex vivo MYXV treatment was dose-dependent and required a minimum MOI of 3. Both AML cell lines demonstrated MYXV binding to leukemia cell membranes following co-incubation: however, evidence of productive MYXV infection was observed only in THP-1 cells. This observation, that KG-1 can be targeted in vivo even in the absence of in vitro permissive viral infection, contrasts with the current understanding of oncolytic virotherapy, which assumes that virus infection and productive replication is a requirement. Preventing MYXV binding to AML cells with heparin abrogated the purging capacity of MYXV, indicating that binding of infectious virus particles is a necessary step for effective viral oncolysis. Our results challenge the current dogma of oncolytic virotherapy and show that in vitro permissiveness to an oncolytic virus is not necessarily an accurate predictor of oncolytic potency in vivo.
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2012.01.020
PMCID: PMC3312971  PMID: 22341701
leukemia; oncolytic virotherapy; bone marrow; hematopoietic stem cell; animal models
25.  Adenovirus as a new agent for multiple myeloma therapies: Opportunities and restrictions 
The Korean Journal of Hematology  2011;46(4):229-238.
Multiple myeloma is a malignancy of B-cells that is characterized by the clonal expansion and accumulation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow. This disease remains incurable, and a median survival of 3-5 years has been reported with the use of current treatments. Viral-based therapies offer promising alternatives or possible integration with current therapeutic regimens. Among several gene therapy vectors and oncolytic agents, adenovirus has emerged as a promising agent, and it is already being used for the treatment of solid tumors in humans. The main concern with the clinical use of this vector has been its high immunogenicity; adenovirus is often able to induce a strong immune response in the host. Furthermore, new limitations in the efficacy of this therapy, intrinsic to the nature of tumor cells, have been recently observed. For example, our group showed a strong antiviral phenotype in vitro and in vivo in a subset of tumors, shedding new insights that may explain the partial failure of clinical trials based on this promising new therapy. In this review, we describe novel therapeutic approaches that implement viral-based treatments in hematological malignancies and address the novelty as well as the possible limitations of these new therapies, especially in the context of the use of adenoviral vectors for treating multiple myeloma.
doi:10.5045/kjh.2011.46.4.229
PMCID: PMC3259514  PMID: 22259628
Adenovirus; Oncolytic therapy; Multiple myeloma; Antiviral phenotype

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