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1.  Towards Predictive Computational Models of Oncolytic Virus Therapy: Basis for Experimental Validation and Model Selection 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(1):e4271.
Oncolytic viruses are viruses that specifically infect cancer cells and kill them, while leaving healthy cells largely intact. Their ability to spread through the tumor makes them an attractive therapy approach. While promising results have been observed in clinical trials, solid success remains elusive since we lack understanding of the basic principles that govern the dynamical interactions between the virus and the cancer. In this respect, computational models can help experimental research at optimizing treatment regimes. Although preliminary mathematical work has been performed, this suffers from the fact that individual models are largely arbitrary and based on biologically uncertain assumptions. Here, we present a general framework to study the dynamics of oncolytic viruses that is independent of uncertain and arbitrary mathematical formulations. We find two categories of dynamics, depending on the assumptions about spatial constraints that govern that spread of the virus from cell to cell. If infected cells are mixed among uninfected cells, there exists a viral replication rate threshold beyond which tumor control is the only outcome. On the other hand, if infected cells are clustered together (e.g. in a solid tumor), then we observe more complicated dynamics in which the outcome of therapy might go either way, depending on the initial number of cells and viruses. We fit our models to previously published experimental data and discuss aspects of model validation, selection, and experimental design. This framework can be used as a basis for model selection and validation in the context of future, more detailed experimental studies. It can further serve as the basis for future, more complex models that take into account other clinically relevant factors such as immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2629569  PMID: 19180240
2.  Mathematical modeling of tumor therapy with oncolytic viruses: effects of parametric heterogeneity on cell dynamics 
Biology Direct  2006;1:30.
One of the mechanisms that ensure cancer robustness is tumor heterogeneity, and its effects on tumor cells dynamics have to be taken into account when studying cancer progression. There is no unifying theoretical framework in mathematical modeling of carcinogenesis that would account for parametric heterogeneity.
Here we formulate a modeling approach that naturally takes stock of inherent cancer cell heterogeneity and illustrate it with a model of interaction between a tumor and an oncolytic virus. We show that several phenomena that are absent in homogeneous models, such as cancer recurrence, tumor dormancy, and others, appear in heterogeneous setting. We also demonstrate that, within the applied modeling framework, to overcome the adverse effect of tumor cell heterogeneity on the outcome of cancer treatment, a heterogeneous population of an oncolytic virus must be used. Heterogeneity in parameters of the model, such as tumor cell susceptibility to virus infection and the ability of an oncolytic virus to infect tumor cells, can lead to complex, irregular evolution of the tumor. Thus, quasi-chaotic behavior of the tumor-virus system can be caused not only by random perturbations but also by the heterogeneity of the tumor and the virus.
The modeling approach described here reveals the importance of tumor cell and virus heterogeneity for the outcome of cancer therapy. It should be straightforward to apply these techniques to mathematical modeling of other types of anticancer therapy.
Leonid Hanin (nominated by Arcady Mushegian), Natalia Komarova (nominated by Orly Alter), and David Krakauer.
PMCID: PMC1622743  PMID: 17018145
3.  ODE models for oncolytic virus dynamics 
Journal of theoretical biology  2010;263(4):530-543.
Replicating oncolytic viruses are able to infect and lyse cancer cells and spread through the tumor, while leaving normal cells largely unharmed. This makes them potentially useful in cancer therapy, and a variety of viruses have shown promising results in clinical trials. Nevertheless, consistent success remains elusive and the correlates of success have been the subject of investigation, both from an experimental and a mathematical point of view. Mathematical modeling of oncolytic virus therapy is often limited by the fact that the predicted dynamics depend strongly on particular mathematical terms in the model, the nature of which remain uncertain. We aim to address this issue in the context of ODE modeling, by formulating a general computational framework that is independent of particular mathematical expressions. By analyzing this framework, we find some new insights into the conditions for successful virus therapy. We find that depending on our assumptions about the virus spread, there can be two distinct types of dynamics. In models of the first type (the “fast spread” models), we predict that the viruses can eliminate the tumor if the viral replication rate is sufficiently high. The second type of models is characterized by a suboptimal spread (the “slow spread” models). For such models, the simulated treatment may fail, even for very high viral replication rates. Our methodology can be used to study the dynamics of many biological systems, and thus has implications beyond the study of virus therapy of cancers.
PMCID: PMC2839021  PMID: 20085772
4.  Immune Recruitment and Therapeutic Synergy: Keys to Optimizing Oncolytic Viral Therapy? 
Oncolytic viruses consist of a diverse range of DNA and RNA viruses traditionally thought to mediate their effects by exploiting aberrations in tumor pathways, allowing preferential viral replication in, and killing of, tumor cells. Clinical development has progressed to late phase trials, potentially heralding their introduction into clinical practice. However, despite this promise, the activity of oncolytic viruses has yet to achieve the potential suggested in preclinical models. To address this disparity, we need to recognise the complex interaction between oncolytic viruses, tumor, chemotherapy, host immune system, and appreciate that direct oncolysis may not be the only factor to play an important role in oncolytic virus-mediated anti-tumor efficacy.
Although key in inactivating viruses, the host immune system can also act as an ally against tumors, interacting with oncolytic viruses under the right conditions to generate useful and long-lasting anti-tumor immunity.
Preclinical data also suggest that oncolytic viruses demonstrate synergy with standard therapies, which may offer improved clinical response rates. Here we explore clinical and preclinical data on clinically relevant oncolytic viruses, highlighting areas of progress, uncertainty and translational opportunity, with respect to immune recruitment and therapeutic synergy.
PMCID: PMC3131422  PMID: 21576084
Oncolytic virus; oncolysis; anti-tumor immune response; chemotherapy; synergy
5.  Oncolytic viral purging of leukemic hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells with Myxoma virus 
Cytokine & growth factor reviews  2010;21(2-3):169-175.
High-dose chemotherapy and radiation followed by autologous blood and marrow transplantation (ABMT) has been extensively used for the treatment of certain cancers that are refractory to standard therapeutic regimes. However, a major challenge with ABMT for patients with hematologic malignancies is disease relapse, mainly due to either contamination with cancerous hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) within the autograft or the persistence of residual therapy-resistant disease niches within the patient. Oncolytic viruses represent a promising therapeutic approach to prevent cancer relapse by eliminating tumor-initiating cells that contaminate the autograft. Here we summarize an ex vivo “purging” strategy with oncolytic myxoma virus (MYXV) to remove cancer-initiating cells from patient autografts prior to transplantation. MYXV, a novel oncolytic poxvirus with potent anti-cancer properties in a variety of in vivo tumor models, can specifically eliminate cancerous stem and progenitor cells from samples obtained from acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) patients, while sparing normal CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells capable of rescuing hematopoiesis following high dose conditioning. We propose that a broader subset of patients with intractable hematologic malignancies who have failed standard therapy could become eligible for ABMT when the treatment schema is coupled with ex vivo oncolytic therapy.
PMCID: PMC2881168  PMID: 20211576
6.  Oncolytic Viruses for Cancer Therapy: Overcoming the Obstacles 
Viruses  2010;2(1):78-106.
Targeted therapy of cancer using oncolytic viruses has generated much interest over the past few years in the light of the limited efficacy and side effects of standard cancer therapeutics for advanced disease. In 2006, the world witnessed the first government-approved oncolytic virus for the treatment of head and neck cancer. It has been known for many years that viruses have the ability to replicate in and lyse cancer cells. Although encouraging results have been demonstrated in vitro and in animal models, most oncolytic viruses have failed to impress in the clinical setting. The explanation is multifactorial, determined by the complex interactions between the tumor and its microenvironment, the virus, and the host immune response. This review focuses on discussion of the obstacles that oncolytic virotherapy faces and recent advances made to overcome them, with particular reference to adenoviruses.
PMCID: PMC2883714  PMID: 20543907
oncolytic virus; adenovirus; vaccinia virus; cancer gene; host immune response
7.  Oncolytic Viruses for Cancer Therapy: Overcoming the Obstacles 
Viruses  2010;2(1):78-106.
Targeted therapy of cancer using oncolytic viruses has generated much interest over the past few years in the light of the limited efficacy and side effects of standard cancer therapeutics for advanced disease. In 2006, the world witnessed the first government-approved oncolytic virus for the treatment of head and neck cancer. It has been known for many years that viruses have the ability to replicate in and lyse cancer cells. Although encouraging results have been demonstrated in vitro and in animal models, most oncolytic viruses have failed to impress in the clinical setting. The explanation is multifactorial, determined by the complex interactions between the tumor and its microenvironment, the virus, and the host immune response. This review focuses on discussion of the obstacles that oncolytic virotherapy faces and recent advances made to overcome them, with particular reference to adenoviruses.
PMCID: PMC2883714  PMID: 20543907
oncolytic virus; adenovirus; vaccinia virus; cancer gene; host immune response
8.  Oncolytic Viruses: Do They Have a Role in Anti-Cancer Therapy? 
Oncolytic viruses are replication competent, tumor selective and lyse cancer cells. Their potential for anti-cancer therapy is based upon the concept that selective intratumoral replication will produce a potent anti-tumor effect and possibly bystander or remote cell killing, whilst minimizing normal tissue toxicity. Viruses may be naturally oncolytic or be engineered for oncolytic activity, and possess a host of different mechanisms to provide tumor selectivity. Clinical use of live replicating viruses is associated with a unique set of safety issues. Clinical experience has so far provided evidence of limited efficacy and a favourable toxicity profile. The interaction with the host immune system is complex. An anti-viral immune response may limit efficacy by rapidly clearing the virus. However, virally-induced cell lysis releases tumor associated antigens in a ‘dangerous’ context, and limited evidence suggests that this can lead to the generation of a specific anti-tumor immune response. Combination therapy with chemotherapy or radiotherapy represents a promising avenue for ongoing translation of oncolytic viruses into clinical practice. Obstacles to therapy include highly effective non-specific host mechanisms to clear virus following systemic delivery, immune-mediated clearance, and intratumoral barriers limiting virus spread. A number of novel strategies are now under investigation to overcome these barriers. This review provides an overview of the potential role of oncolytic viruses, highlighting recent progress towards developing effective therapy and asks if they are a realistic therapeutic option at this stage.
PMCID: PMC3161683  PMID: 21892269
oncolytic virus; tumor selectivity; safety; virus delivery; anti-tumour immunity; administration
9.  Immunosuppression Enhances Oncolytic Adenovirus Replication and Antitumor Efficacy in the Syrian Hamster Model 
We recently described an immunocompetent Syrian hamster model for oncolytic adenoviruses (Ads) that permits virus replication in tumor cells as well as some normal tissues. This model allows exploration of interactions between the virus, tumor, normal organs, and host immune system that could not be examined in the immunodeficient or nonpermissive animal models previously used in the oncolytic Ad field. Here we asked whether the immune response to oncolytic Ad enhances or limits antitumor efficacy. We first determined that cyclophosphamide (CP) is a potent immunosuppressive agent in the Syrian hamster and that CP alone had no effect on tumor growth. Importantly, we found that the antitumor efficacy of oncolytic Ads was significantly enhanced in immunosuppressed animals. In animals that received virus therapy plus immunosuppression, significant differences were observed in tumor histology, and in many cases little viable tumor remained. Notably, we also determined that immunosuppression allowed intratumoral virus levels to remain elevated for prolonged periods. Although favorable tumor responses can be achieved in immunocompetent animals, the rate of virus clearance from the tumor may lead to varied antitumor efficacy. Immunosuppression, therefore, allows sustained Ad replication and oncolysis, which leads to substantially improved suppression of tumor growth.
PMCID: PMC3437752  PMID: 18665155
10.  Targeting of Interferon-Beta to Produce a Specific, Multi-Mechanistic Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e353.
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.
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
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
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
PMCID: PMC2222946  PMID: 18162040
11.  Replication and Virus-Induced Transcriptome of HAdV-5 in Normal Host Cells versus Cancer Cells - Differences of Relevance for Adenoviral Oncolysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27934.
Adenoviruses (Ads), especially HAdV-5, have been genetically equipped with tumor-restricted replication potential to enable applications in oncolytic cancer therapy. Such oncolytic adenoviruses have been well tolerated in cancer patients, but their anti-tumor efficacy needs to be enhanced. In this regard, it should be considered that cancer cells, dependent on their tissue of origin, can differ substantially from the normal host cells to which Ads are adapted by complex virus-host interactions. Consequently, viral replication efficiency, a key determinant of oncolytic activity, might be suboptimal in cancer cells. Therefore, we have analyzed both the replication kinetics of HAdV-5 and the virus-induced transcriptome in human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC) in comparison to cancer cells. This is the first report on genome-wide expression profiling of Ads in their native host cells. We found that E1A expression and onset of viral genome replication are most rapid in HBEC and considerably delayed in melanoma cells. In squamous cell lung carcinoma cells, we observed intermediate HAdV-5 replication kinetics. Infectious particle production, viral spread and lytic activity of HAdV-5 were attenuated in melanoma cells versus HBEC. Expression profiling at the onset of viral genome replication revealed that HAdV-5 induced the strongest changes in the cellular transcriptome in HBEC, followed by lung cancer and melanoma cells. We identified prominent regulation of genes involved in cell cycle and DNA metabolism, replication and packaging in HBEC, which is in accord with the necessity to induce S phase for viral replication. Strikingly, in melanoma cells HAdV-5 triggered opposing regulation of said genes and, in contrast to lung cancer cells, no weak S phase induction was detected when using the E2F promoter as reporter. Our results provide a rationale for improving oncolytic adenoviruses either by adaptation of viral infection to target tumor cells or by modulating tumor cell functions to better support viral replication.
PMCID: PMC3227638  PMID: 22140489
12.  Carrier cell-based delivery of replication-competent HSV-1 mutants enhances antitumor effect for ovarian cancer 
Cancer Gene Therapy  2010;18(2):77-86.
Oncolytic viruses capable of tumor-selective replication and cytolysis have shown early promise as cancer therapeutics. We have developed replication-competent attenuated herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) mutants, named HF10 and Hh101, which have been evaluated for their oncolytic activities. However, the host immune system remains a significant obstacle to effective intraperitoneal administration of these viruses in the clinical setting. In this study, we investigated the use of these HSV-1 mutants as oncolytic agents against ovarian cancer and the use of human peritoneal mesothelial cells (MCs) as carrier cells for intraperitoneal therapy. MCs were efficiently infected with HSV-1 mutants, and MCs loaded with HSV-1 mutants caused cell killing adequately when cocultured with cancer cells in the presence or absence of HSV antibodies. In a mouse xenograft model of ovarian cancer, the injection of infected carrier cells led to a significant reduction of tumor volume and prolonged survival in comparison with the injection of virus alone. Our results indicate that replication-competent attenuated HSV-1 exerts a potent oncolytic effect on ovarian cancer, which may be further enhanced by the utilization of a carrier cell delivery system, based on amplification of viral load and possibly on avoidance of neutralizing antibodies.
PMCID: PMC3025316  PMID: 20885447
oncolytic virotherapy; ovarian cancer; cell carriers; herpes simplex virus
13.  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
14.  The immunologic aspects of poxvirus oncolytic therapy 
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy  2009;58(9):1355-1362.
The concept of using replicating, oncolytic viruses in cancer therapy dates to the beginning of the 20th century. However, in the last few years an increasing number of pre-clinical and clinical trials have been carried out with promising preliminarily results. Novel, indeed, is the suggestion that viral oncolytic therapy might not operate exclusively through an oncolysis-mediated process but additionally requires the “assistance” of the host’s immune system. Originally, the host’s immune response was believed to play a predominantly obstructive role against viral replication, hence limiting the anti-tumor efficacy of viral vectors. Recent data, however, suggests that the immune response may also play a key role in promoting tumor destruction in association with the oncolytic process. In fact, immune effector pathways activated during oncolytic virus-induced tumor rejection seem to follow a similar pattern to those observed when the broader phenomenon of immune-mediated tissue-specific rejection occurs in other immune-related pathologies. We recently formulated the “Immunologic Constant of Rejection” hypothesis, emphasizing commonalties in transcriptional patterns observed when tissue-destruction occurs: whether with a favorable outcome, such as in tumor rejection and pathogen clearance; or a destructive one, such as in allograft rejection or autoimmunity. Here, we propose that a similar mechanism induces clearance of virally-infected tumors and that such a mechanism is primarily dependent on innate immune functions.
PMCID: PMC3404612  PMID: 19266198
Vaccinia Virus; oncolytic therapy; innate immunity; tumor rejection
15.  Virotherapy of Canine Tumors with Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus GLV-1h109 Expressing an Anti-VEGF Single-Chain Antibody 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47472.
Virotherapy using oncolytic vaccinia virus (VACV) strains is one promising new strategy for cancer therapy. We have previously reported that oncolytic vaccinia virus strains expressing an anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) single-chain antibody (scAb) GLAF-1 exhibited significant therapeutic efficacy for treatment of human tumor xenografts. Here, we describe the use of oncolytic vaccinia virus GLV-1h109 encoding GLAF-1 for canine cancer therapy. In this study we analyzed the virus-mediated delivery and production of scAb GLAF-1 and the oncolytic and immunological effects of the GLV-1h109 vaccinia virus strain against canine soft tissue sarcoma and canine prostate carcinoma in xenograft models. Cell culture data demonstrated that the GLV-1h109 virus efficiently infect, replicate in and destroy both tested canine cancer cell lines. In addition, successful expression of GLAF-1 was demonstrated in virus-infected canine cancer cells and the antibody specifically recognized canine VEGF. In two different xenograft models, the systemic administration of the GLV-1h109 virus was found to be safe and led to anti-tumor and immunological effects resulting in the significant reduction of tumor growth in comparison to untreated control mice. Furthermore, tumor-specific virus infection led to a continued production of functional scAb GLAF-1, resulting in inhibition of angiogenesis. Overall, the GLV-1h109-mediated cancer therapy and production of immunotherapeutic anti-VEGF scAb may open the way for combination therapy concept i.e. vaccinia virus mediated oncolysis and intratumoral production of therapeutic drugs in canine cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3473019  PMID: 23091626
16.  Anti-cancer oncolytic activity of respiratory syncytial virus 
Cancer gene therapy  2009;16(12):923-935.
Oncolytic virotherapy is an emerging bio-therapeutic platform for cancer treatment, which is based on selective infection/killing of cancer cells by viruses. Herein we identify the human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as an oncolytic virus. Using prostate cancer models, we show dramatic enhancement of RSV infectivity in vitro in the androgen-independent, highly metastatic PC-3 human prostate cancer cells compared to the non-tumorigenic RWPE-1 human prostate cells. The oncolytic efficiency of RSV was established in vivo using human prostate tumor xenografts in nude mice. Intra-tumoral and intra-peritoneal injections of RSV led to a significant regression of prostate tumors. Furthermore, enhanced viral burden in PC-3 cells led to selective destruction of PC-3 cancer cells in vitro and in xenograft tumors in vivo due to apoptosis triggered by the down-regulation of NF-κB activity (and the resulting loss of anti-apoptotic function of NF-κB) in RSV-infected PC-3 cells. The intrinsic (mitochondrial) pathway constitutes the major apoptotic pathway; however, the death-receptor-dependent extrinsic pathway, mediated by the paracrine/autocrine action of tumor necrosis factor-α produced from infected cells, also partly contributed to apoptosis. Thus, the oncolytic property of RSV can potentially be exploited to develop targeted therapeutics for the clinical management of prostate tumors.
PMCID: PMC2813688  PMID: 19444304
Oncolytic; respiratory syncytial virus; anti-cancer; prostate cancer; apoptosis
17.  Preclinical Evaluation of Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus for Therapy of Canine Soft Tissue Sarcoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37239.
Virotherapy using oncolytic vaccinia virus (VACV) strains is one promising new strategy for canine cancer therapy. In this study we describe the establishment of an in vivo model of canine soft tissue sarcoma (CSTS) using the new isolated cell line STSA-1 and the analysis of the virus-mediated oncolytic and immunological effects of two different Lister VACV LIVP1.1.1 and GLV-1h68 strains against CSTS. Cell culture data demonstrated that both tested VACV strains efficiently infected and destroyed cells of the canine soft tissue sarcoma line STSA-1. In addition, in our new canine sarcoma tumor xenograft mouse model, systemic administration of LIVP1.1.1 or GLV-1h68 viruses led to significant inhibition of tumor growth compared to control mice. Furthermore, LIVP1.1.1 mediated therapy resulted in almost complete tumor regression and resulted in long-term survival of sarcoma-bearing mice. The replication of the tested VACV strains in tumor tissues led to strong oncolytic effects accompanied by an intense intratumoral infiltration of host immune cells, mainly neutrophils. These findings suggest that the direct viral oncolysis of tumor cells and the virus-dependent activation of tumor-associated host immune cells could be crucial parts of anti-tumor mechanism in STSA-1 xenografts. In summary, the data showed that both tested vaccinia virus strains and especially LIVP1.1.1 have great potential for effective treatment of CSTS.
PMCID: PMC3352892  PMID: 22615950
18.  Enhanced anti tumor efficacy of Vasculostatin (Vstat120) expressing oncolytic HSV-1 
Oncolytic viral therapy is a promising therapeutic modality for brain tumors. Vasculostatin (Vstat120), is the cleaved and secreted extracellular fragment of BAI1, a brain specific receptor. However, the therapeutic efficacy of Vstat120 delivery into established tumors has not been investigated. Here we tested therapeutic efficacy of combining Vstat120 gene delivery in conjunction with oncolytic viral therapy. We constructed a novel oncolytic virus RAMBO: Rapid Anti-angiogensis Mediated By Oncolytic virus, which expresses Vsta120 under the control of an immediate early viral promotor. Secreted Vstat120 was detectable in infected cells as soon as four hours post infection. Vstat120 produced by RAMBO efficiently inhibited endothelial cell migration and tube formation in vitro (P=0.0005 and P=0.0184 respectively) and inhibited angiogeneisis (P=0.007) in vivo. There was a significant suppression of tumors growth in mice bearing intracranial and subcutaneous gliomas treated with RAMBO compared to the control HSVQ treated mice (P=0.0021, and P<0.05 respectively). Statistically significant reduction in tumor vascular volume fraction and microvessel density was observed in tumors treated with RAMBO. This study is the first report of antitumor effects of Vstat120 in established tumors and supports the further development of RAMBO as a possible treatment for cancer.
PMCID: PMC2818668  PMID: 19844198
Glioma; Vasculostatin; Oncolytic virus; HSV-1; angiogenesis
19.  Imaging and Therapy of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma using Replication-competent Herpes Simplex Viruses 
The journal of gene medicine  2006;8(5):603-615.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive cancer that is refractory to current treatment modalities. Oncolytic herpes simplex viruses (HSV) used for gene therapy are genetically engineered, replication-competent viruses that selectively target tumor cells while sparing normal host tissue. The localized nature, the potential accessibility and the relative lack of distant metastasis, make MPM a particularly suitable disease for oncolytic viral therapy.
The infectivity, selective replication, vector spread and cytotoxic ability of three oncolytic HSV: G207, NV1020 and NV1066 were tested against eleven pathological types of MPM cell lines including those that are resistant to radiation therapy, gemcitabine or cisplatin. The therapeutic efficacy and the effect on survival of NV1066 were confirmed in a murine MPM model.
All three oncolytic HSV were highly effective against all the MPM cell lines tested. Even at very low concentrations of MOI 0.01 (MOI: multiplicity of viral infection, ratio of viral particles per cancer cell), HSV were highly effective against MPM cells that are resistant to radiation, gemcitabine and cisplatin. NV1066, an oncolytic HSV that expresses green fluorescent protein (GFP) was able to delineate the extent of the disease in a murine model of MPM due to selective infection and expression of GFP in tumor cells. Furthermore, NV1066 was able to reduce the tumor burden and prolong survival even when treated at an advanced stage of the disease.
These findings support the continued investigation of oncolytic HSV as potential therapy for patients with therapy resistant malignant pleural mesothelioma.
PMCID: PMC1804293  PMID: 16475242
Gene therapy; Herpes simplex virus; NV1066
20.  Expression of CCL19 from Oncolytic Vaccinia Enhances Immunotherapeutic Potential while Maintaining Oncolytic Activity12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2012;14(12):1115-1121.
Promising phase II clinical results have been reported recently for several oncolytic viral therapeutics, including strains based on vaccinia virus. One reason for this has been an increased appreciation of the critical therapeutic importance of the immune response raised by these viruses. However, the most commonly used approaches to enhance these immunotherapeutic effects in oncolytic viruses, typically though expression of cytokine transgenes, often also result in a reduction in oncolytic activity and premature clearance of the virotherapy from the tumor. Approaches that enhance the immunotherapeutic effects while maintaining oncolytic activity would therefore be beneficial. Here, it is demonstrated that the expression of the chemokine CCL19 (ELC) from an oncolytic vaccinia virus (vvCCL19) results in increased antitumor effects in syngeneic mouse tumor models. This corresponded with increased t cell and dendritic cell infiltration into the tumor. However, vvCCL19 persisted in the tumor at equivalent levels to a control virus without CCL19, demonstrating that oncolytic activity was not curtailed. Instead, vvCCL19 was cleared rapidly and selectively from normal tissues and organs, indicating a potentially increased safety profile. The therapeutic activity of vvCCL19 could be further significantly increased through combination with adoptive transfer of therapeutic immune cells expressing CCR7, the receptor for CCL19. This approach therefore represents a means to increase the safety and therapeutic benefit of oncolytic viruses, used alone or in combination with immune cell therapies.
PMCID: PMC3540938  PMID: 23308044
21.  Using Targeted Virotherapy to Treat a Resistant Ewing Sarcoma Model: From the Bedside to the Bench and Back 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:171439.
Metastatic Ewing sarcoma (EWS) is often resistant to current multimodal chemotherapeutic regimens. Oncolytic virus therapy (OV) is a novel therapeutic platform whereby viruses can selectively infect as well as replicate in and kill tumor cells, while sparing normal tissues. The purpose of this study is to investigate the efficacy of the biotherapeutic oncolytic agent, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSVΔM51), to kill EWS cells that are resistant to conventional therapy. Our hypothesis is that systemic delivery of VSVΔM51 can demonstrate tumor-specific killing of resistant EWS cells, as well as a significant decrease of tumor burden in EWS bearing mice. Methods. A biopsy sample was obtained from a patient with metastatic EWS and was used to establish a novel EWS cell line. In vitro assays evaluated the oncolytic effect of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSVΔM51) on this cell line. EWS xenograft mice model bearing either lung or subcutaneous tumors was established to evaluate the antitumor specific oncolytic effect of VSVΔM51 after local and systemic delivery. Results. The established EWS cell line shared similar molecular and genetic traits to the patient's original tumor specimen. VSVΔM51 effectively infected and killed EWS cells in vitro. In vivo, VSVΔM51 selectively infected and killed EWS and led to significant delay in tumor growth. Conclusion. This study has been designed to implement a translational link between the bedside and the bench, where a specific challenging clinical scenario guided this basic science research. This research demonstrated that a sarcoma, which is resistant to current conventional standard therapies, is still susceptible to an alternative therapeutic platform, such as OV. Adding OV to the armamentarium of sarcoma treatment can enhance the future therapeutic approach towards these cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3930196  PMID: 24672293
22.  Feasibility of herpes simplex virus type 1 mutants labeled with radionuclides for tumor treatment 
For over one hundred years, viruses have been recognized as capable of killing tumor cells. At present, people are still researching and constructing more suitable oncolytic viruses for treating different malignant tumors. Although extensive studies have demonstrated that herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is the most potential oncolytic virus, therapies based on herpes simplex virus type 1 vectors still arouse bio-safety and risk management issues. Researchers have therefore introduced the new idea of treating cancer with HSV-1 mutants labeled with radionuclides, combining radionuclide and oncolytic virus therapies. This overview briefly summarizes the status and mechanisms by which oncolytic viruses kill tumor cells, discusses the application of HSV-1 and HSV-1 derived vectors for tumor therapy, and demonstrates the feasibility and prospect of HSV-1 mutants labeled with radionuclides for treating tumors.
PMCID: PMC2693676  PMID: 18322942
Oncolytic virus; Herpes simplex virus type 1; Mutant; Radionuclide; Tumor therapy
23.  Regression of Human Prostate Tumors and Metastases in Nude Mice following Treatment with the Recombinant Oncolytic Vaccinia Virus GLV-1h68 
Virotherapy using oncolytic vaccinia virus strains is one of the most promising new strategies for cancer therapy. In the current study, we analyzed the therapeutic efficacy of the oncolytic vaccinia virus GLV-1h68 against two human prostate cancer cell lines DU-145 and PC-3 in cell culture and in tumor xenograft models. By viral proliferation assays and cell survival tests, we demonstrated that GLV-1h68 was able to infect, replicate in, and lyse these prostate cancer cells in culture. In DU-145 and PC-3 tumor xenograft models, a single intravenous injection with GLV-1h68 resulted in a significant reduction of primary tumor size. In addition, the GLV-1h68-infection led to strong inflammatory and oncolytic effects resulting in drastic reduction of regional lymph nodes with PC-3 metastases. Our data documented that the GLV-1h68 virus has a great potential for treatment of human prostate carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC2850154  PMID: 20379368
24.  A Novel Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Has Potent Anti-Tumor Activity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93103.
Oncolytic viruses are promising treatments for many kinds of solid tumors. In this study, we constructed a novel oncolytic herpes simplex virus type 2: oHSV2. We investigated the cytopathic effects of oHSV2 in vitro and tested its antitumor efficacy in a 4T1 breast cancer model. We compared its effect on the cell cycle and its immunologic impact with the traditional chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin. In vitro data showed that oHSV2 infected most of the human and murine tumor cell lines and was highly oncolytic. oHSV2 infected and killed 4T1 tumor cells independent of their cell cycle phase, whereas doxorubicin mainly blocked cells that were in S and G2/M phase. In vivo study showed that both oHSV2 and doxorubicin had an antitumor effect, though the former was less toxic. oHSV2 treatment alone not only slowed down the growth of tumors without causing weight loss but also induced an elevation of NK cells and mild decrease of Tregs in spleen. In addition, combination therapy of doxorubicin followed by oHSV2 increased survival with weight loss than oHSV2 alone. The data showed that the oncolytic activity of oHSV2 was similar to oHSV1 in cell lines examined and in vivo. Therefore, we concluded that our virus is a safe and effective therapeutic agent for 4T1 breast cancer and that the sequential use of doxorubicin followed by oHSV2 could improve antitumor activity without enhancing doxorubicin’s toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3966855  PMID: 24671154
25.  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.
PMCID: PMC3398296  PMID: 22216938
cancer; canine cancer therapy; oncolytic virus; oncolysis; target molecule, combination therapy

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