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1.  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
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.  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
4.  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.
PMCID: PMC4317755  PMID: 25663937
glioblastoma; oncolytic virotherapy; antitumor immunity
5.  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
6.  Curative one-shot systemic virotherapy in murine myeloma 
Current therapy for multiple myeloma is complex and prolonged. Antimyeloma drugs are combined in induction, consolidation and/or maintenance protocols to destroy bulky disease, then suppress or eradicate residual disease. Oncolytic viruses have the potential to mediate both tumor debulking and residual disease elimination, but this curative paradigm remains unproven. Here we engineered an oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus to minimize its neurotoxicity, enhance induction of antimyeloma immunity, and facilitate noninvasive monitoring of its intratumoral spread. Using high resolution imaging, autoradiography and immunohistochemistry, we demonstrate that the intravenously administered virus extravasates from tumor blood vessels in immunocompetent myeloma-bearing mice, nucleating multiple intratumoral infectious centers which expand rapidly and necrose at their centers, ultimately coalescing to cause extensive tumor destruction. This oncolytic tumor debulking phase lasts only for 72 hours after virus administration, and is completed before antiviral antibodies become detectable in the bloodstream. Anti-myeloma T cells, cross-primed as the virus-infected cells provoke an antiviral immune response, then eliminate residual uninfected myeloma cells. The study establishes a curative oncolytic paradigm for multiple myeloma where direct tumor debulking and immune eradication of minimal disease are mediated by a single intravenous dose of a single therapeutic agent. Clinical translation is underway.
PMCID: PMC3411853  PMID: 22425894
Oncolytic Virotherapy; multiple myeloma; Vesicular Stomatitis Virus; Intravenous; Immunotherapy
7.  Complex Spatial Dynamics of Oncolytic Viruses In Vitro: Mathematical and Experimental Approaches 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(6):e1002547.
Oncolytic viruses replicate selectively in tumor cells and can serve as targeted treatment agents. While promising results have been observed in clinical trials, consistent success of therapy remains elusive. The dynamics of virus spread through tumor cell populations has been studied both experimentally and computationally. However, a basic understanding of the principles underlying virus spread in spatially structured target cell populations has yet to be obtained. This paper studies such dynamics, using a newly constructed recombinant adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) that expresses enhanced jellyfish green fluorescent protein (EGFP), AdEGFPuci, and grows on human 293 embryonic kidney epithelial cells, allowing us to track cell numbers and spatial patterns over time. The cells are arranged in a two-dimensional setting and allow virus spread to occur only to target cells within the local neighborhood. Despite the simplicity of the setup, complex dynamics are observed. Experiments gave rise to three spatial patterns that we call “hollow ring structure”, “filled ring structure”, and “disperse pattern”. An agent-based, stochastic computational model is used to simulate and interpret the experiments. The model can reproduce the experimentally observed patterns, and identifies key parameters that determine which pattern of virus growth arises. The model is further used to study the long-term outcome of the dynamics for the different growth patterns, and to investigate conditions under which the virus population eliminates the target cells. We find that both the filled ring structure and disperse pattern of initial expansion are indicative of treatment failure, where target cells persist in the long run. The hollow ring structure is associated with either target cell extinction or low-level persistence, both of which can be viewed as treatment success. Interestingly, it is found that equilibrium properties of ordinary differential equations describing the dynamics in local neighborhoods in the agent-based model can predict the outcome of the spatial virus-cell dynamics, which has important practical implications. This analysis provides a first step towards understanding spatial oncolytic virus dynamics, upon which more detailed investigations and further complexity can be built.
Author Summary
Traditional chemotherapy of cancers is characterized by strong side effects, while showing a low success rate in the long term control of tumors. Besides small molecule inhibitors, which have shown great promise, oncolytic viruses present an emerging specific treatment approach. They are engineered viruses that spread from tumor cell to tumor cell, killing them in the process. Non-tumor cells are generally not infected. While clinical trials have given rise to promising results, reliable success remains elusive. Besides experiments, computational approaches provide a valuable tool to better understand the dynamics of virus spread through a growing population or tumor cells. Combining in vitro experimental approaches with computational models, we study the principles of virus spread through a spatially structured population of cells, which is of fundamental importance to understanding virus treatment of solid tumors. We describe different growth patterns that can occur, interpret them, and explore how they relate to the ability of the virus to induce tumor regression. We further define how these spatial dynamics relate to settings where cells and viruses mix more readily, such as in many cell culture experiments that are used to evaluate candidate viruses.
PMCID: PMC3375216  PMID: 22719239
8.  A single intravenous injection of oncolytic picornavirus SVV-001 eliminates medulloblastomas in primary tumor-based orthotopic xenograft mouse models 
Neuro-Oncology  2010;13(1):14-27.
Difficulties of drug delivery across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and failure to eliminate cancer stem cells (CSCs) are believed to be the major causes of tumor recurrences in children with medulloblastoma (MB). Seneca Valley virus-001 (SVV-001) is a naturally occurring oncolytic picornavirus that can be systemically administered. Here, we report its antitumor activities against MB cells in a panel of 10 primary tumor-based orthotopic xenograft mouse models. We found that SVV-001 killed the primary cultured xenograft cells, infected and replicated in tumor cells expressing CSC surface marker CD133, and eliminated tumor cells capable of forming neurospheres in vitro in 5 of the 10 xenograft models. We confirmed that SVV-001 could pass through BBB in vivo. A single i.v. injection of SVV-001 in 2 anaplastic MB models led to widespread infection of the preformed intracerebellar (ICb) xenografts, resulting in significant increase in survival (2.2–5.9-fold) in both models and complete elimination of ICb xenografts in 8 of the 10 long-term survivors. Mechanistically, we showed that the intracellular replication of SVV-001 is mediated through a subverted autophagy that is different from the bona fide autophagic process induced by rapamycin. Our data suggest that SVV-001 is well suited for MB treatment. This work expands the current views in the oncolytic therapy field regarding the utility of oncolytic viruses in simultaneous targeting of stem and nonstem tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3018906  PMID: 21075780
cancer stem cells; medulloblastoma; oncolytic virus; orthotopic xenograft
9.  A Dynamical Systems Model for Combinatorial Cancer Therapy Enhances Oncolytic Adenovirus Efficacy by MEK-Inhibition 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(2):e1001085.
Oncolytic adenoviruses, such as ONYX-015, have been tested in clinical trials for currently untreatable tumors, but have yet to demonstrate adequate therapeutic efficacy. The extent to which viruses infect targeted cells determines the efficacy of this approach but many tumors down-regulate the Coxsackievirus and Adenovirus Receptor (CAR), rendering them less susceptible to infection. Disrupting MAPK pathway signaling by pharmacological inhibition of MEK up-regulates CAR expression, offering possible enhanced adenovirus infection. MEK inhibition, however, interferes with adenovirus replication due to resulting G1-phase cell cycle arrest. Therefore, enhanced efficacy will depend on treatment protocols that productively balance these competing effects. Predictive understanding of how to attain and enhance therapeutic efficacy of combinatorial treatment is difficult since the effects of MEK inhibitors, in conjunction with adenovirus/cell interactions, are complex nonlinear dynamic processes. We investigated combinatorial treatment strategies using a mathematical model that predicts the impact of MEK inhibition on tumor cell proliferation, ONYX-015 infection, and oncolysis. Specifically, we fit a nonlinear differential equation system to dedicated experimental data and analyzed the resulting simulations for favorable treatment strategies. Simulations predicted enhanced combinatorial therapy when both treatments were applied simultaneously; we successfully validated these predictions in an ensuing explicit test study. Further analysis revealed that a CAR-independent mechanism may be responsible for amplified virus production and cell death. We conclude that integrated computational and experimental analysis of combinatorial therapy provides a useful means to identify treatment/infection protocols that yield clinically significant oncolysis. Enhanced oncolytic therapy has the potential to dramatically improve non-surgical cancer treatment, especially in locally advanced or metastatic cases where treatment options remain limited.
Author Summary
Novel cancer treatment strategies are urgently needed since currently available non-surgical methods for most solid malignancies have limited impact on survival rates. We used conditionally replicating adenoviruses as cancer-fighting agents since they are designed to target and lyse cells with specific aberrations, leaving healthy cells undamaged. Highly malignant cells, however, down-regulate the adenovirus receptor, impairing infection and subsequent cell death. We demonstrated that disruption of the MEK pathway (which is frequently activated in cancer) up-regulated this receptor, resulting in enhanced adenovirus entry. Although receptor expression was restored, disruption of signaling interfered with adenovirus replication due to cell cycle arrest, presenting an opposing trade-off. We developed a dynamical systems model to characterize the response of cancer cells to oncolytic adenovirus infection and drug treatment, providing a means to enhance therapeutic efficacy of combination treatment strategies. Our simulations predicted improved therapeutic efficacy when drug treatment and infection occurred simultaneously. We successfully validated predictions and found that a CAR-independent mechanism may be responsible for regulating adenovirus production and cell death. This work demonstrates the utility of modeling for accurate prediction and optimization of combinatorial treatment strategies, serving as a paradigm for improved design of anti-cancer combination therapies.
PMCID: PMC3040662  PMID: 21379332
10.  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
11.  Permissiveness of Human Cancer Cells to Oncolytic Bovine Herpesvirus 1 Is Mediated in Part by KRAS Activity 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(12):6885-6895.
Oncolytic viruses (OVs) are attractive avenues of cancer therapy due to the absence of toxic side effects often seen with current treatment modalities. Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1) is a species-specific virus that does not induce cytotoxicity in normal primary human cells but can infect and kill various human immortalized and transformed cell lines. To gain a better understanding of the oncolytic breadth of BHV-1, the NCI panel of established human tumor cell lines was screened for sensitivity to the virus. Overall, 72% of the panel is permissive to BHV-1 infection, with corresponding decreases in cellular viability. This sensitivity is in comparison to a sensitivity of only 32% for a herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1)-based oncolytic vector. Strikingly, while 35% of the panel supports minimal or no BHV-1 replication, significant decreases in cellular viability still occur. These data suggest that BHV-1 is an OV with tropism for multiple tumor types and is able to induce cytotoxicity independent of significant virus replication. In contrast to other species-specific OVs, cellular sensitivity to BHV-1 does not correlate with type I interferon (IFN) signaling; however, mutations in KRAS were found to correlate with high levels of virus replication. The knockdown or overexpression of KRAS in human tumor cell lines yields modest changes in viral titers; however, overexpression of KRAS in normal primary cells elicits permissivity to BHV-1 infection. Together, these data suggest that BHV-1 is a broad-spectrum OV with a distinct mechanism of tumor targeting.
IMPORTANCE Cancer remains a significant health issue, and novel treatments are required, particularly for tumors that are refractory to conventional therapies. Oncolytic viruses are a novel platform given their ability to specifically target tumor cells while leaving healthy cells intact. For this strategy to be successful, a fundamental understanding of virus-host interactions is required. We previously identified bovine herpesvirus 1 as a novel oncolytic virus with many unique and clinically relevant features. Here, we show that BHV-1 can target a wide range of human cancer types, most potently lung cancer. In addition, we show that enhanced KRAS activity, a hallmark of many cancers, is one of the factors that increases BHV-1 oncolytic capacity. These findings hold potential for future treatments, particularly in the context of lung cancer, where KRAS mutations are a negative predictor of treatment efficacy.
PMCID: PMC4054371  PMID: 24696490
12.  The Utility of a Tissue Slice Model System to Determine Breast Cancer Infectivity by Oncolytic Adenoviruses 
The Journal of surgical research  2010;163(2):270-275.
Due to advances in viral design, oncolytic adenoviruses have emerged as a promising approach for treatment of breast cancer. Tumor tissue slices offer a stringent model system for preclinical evaluation of adenovirus therapies, since the slices retain a morphology and phenotype that more closely resembles the in vivo setting than cell line cultures, and it has been shown to have utility in the evaluation of viral infectivity and replication. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of viral infection and replication using a tropism-modified oncolytic adenovirus.
Breast tumor tissue slices were infected with a tropism-modified oncolytic adenovirus, and a wild-type adenovirus for comparison. Efficiency of infection was evaluated using fluorescent microscopy, as the viruses used have been modified to express red fluorescent protein. Replication of the viruses was evaluated with quantitative real-time PCR to assay viral E4 genome copy number, a surrogate indicator for the number of virions. The breast tumor tissue slices were evaluated for the expression of CD46 expression by immunohistochemistry.
Infection and replication of our tropism modified oncolytic virus has been observed in breast cancer tissue slice model system and is comparative to wild-type virus. A qualitative increase in the number of cells showing RFP expression was observed correlating with increasing multiplicity of infection. Higher relative infectivity of the virus was observed in tumor tissue compared with normal breast tissue. Replication of the virus was demonstrated through increases in E4 copy number at 48 and 72 hours after infection in human breast tumor slices.
We have shown that a tropism modified oncolytic oncolytic adenovirus can infect and replicate in breast cancer tissue slices, which may be an important preclinical indicator for its therapeutic utility.
PMCID: PMC3015137  PMID: 20691986
adenovirus; breast cancer; CD46; CAR; oncolytic; tissue slice model
13.  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
14.  Chemical Modification with High Molecular Weight Polyethylene Glycol Reduces Transduction of Hepatocytes and Increases Efficacy of Intravenously Delivered Oncolytic Adenovirus 
Human Gene Therapy  2009;20(9):975-988.
Oncolytic adenoviruses are anticancer agents that replicate within tumors and spread to uninfected tumor cells, amplifying the anticancer effect of initial transduction. We tested whether coating the viral particle with polyethylene glycol (PEG) could reduce transduction of hepatocytes and hepatotoxicity after systemic (intravenous) administration of oncolytic adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5). Conjugating Ad5 with high molecular weight 20-kDa PEG but not with 5-kDa PEG reduced hepatocyte transduction and hepatotoxicity after intravenous injection. PEGylation with 20-kDa PEG was as efficient at detargeting adenovirus from Kupffer cells and hepatocytes as virus predosing and warfarin. Bioluminescence imaging of virus distribution in two xenograft tumor models in nude mice demonstrated that PEGylation with 20-kDa PEG reduced liver infection 19- to 90-fold. Tumor transduction levels were similar for vectors PEGylated with 20-kDa PEG and unPEGylated vectors. Anticancer efficacy after a single intravenous injection was retained at the level of unmodified vector in large established prostate carcinoma xenografts, resulting in complete elimination of tumors in all animals and long-term tumor-free survival. Anticancer efficacy after a single intravenous injection was increased in large established hepatocellular carcinoma xenografts, resulting in significant prolongation of survival as compared with unmodified vector. The increase in efficacy was comparable to that obtained with predosing and warfarin pretreatment, significantly extending the median of survival. Shielding adenovirus with 20-kDa PEG may be a useful approach to improve the therapeutic window of oncolytic adenovirus after systemic delivery to primary and metastatic tumor sites.
PMCID: PMC2829283  PMID: 19469693
15.  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
16.  Regression of advanced rat and human gliomas by local or systemic treatment with oncolytic parvovirus H-1 in rat models 
Neuro-Oncology  2010;12(8):804-814.
Oncolytic virotherapy is a potential treatment modality under investigation for various malignancies including malignant brain tumors. Unlike some other natural or modified viruses that show oncolytic activity against cerebral neoplasms, the rodent parvovirus H-1 (H-1PV) is completely apathogenic in humans. H-1PV efficiently kills a number of tumor cells without harm to corresponding normal ones. In this study, the concept of H-1PV-based virotherapy of glioma was tested for rat (RG-2 cell-derived) and for human (U87 cell-derived) gliomas in immunocompetent and immunodeficient rat models, respectively. Large orthotopic rat and human glioma cell-derived tumors were treated with either single stereotactic intratumoral or multiple intravenous (iv) H-1PV injections. Oncolysis was monitored by magnetic resonance imaging and proven by histology. Virus distribution and replication were determined in brain and organs. In immunocompetent rats bearing RG-2-derived tumors, a single stereotactic intratumoral injection of H-1PV and multiple systemic (iv) applications of the virus were sufficient for remission of advanced and even symptomatic intracranial gliomas without damaging normal brain tissue or other organs. H-1PV therapy resulted in significantly improved survival (Kaplan–Meier analysis) in both the rat and human glioma models. Virus replication in tumors indicated a contribution of secondary infection by progeny virus to the efficiency of oncolysis. Virus replication was restricted to tumors, although H-1PV DNA could be detected transiently in adjacent or remote normal brain tissue and in noncerebral tissues. The results presented here and the innocuousness of H-1PV for humans argue for the use of H-1PV as a powerful means to perform oncolytic therapy of malignant gliomas.
PMCID: PMC2940670  PMID: 20299703
cathepsin; glioma; oncolytic virus; parvovirus H-1; virotherapy
17.  Elimination of HIV in South Africa through Expanded Access to Antiretroviral Therapy: A Model Comparison Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001534.
Using nine structurally different models, Jan Hontelez and colleagues investigate timeframes for HIV elimination in South Africa using a universal test and treat strategy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Expanded access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) using universal test and treat (UTT) has been suggested as a strategy to eliminate HIV in South Africa within 7 y based on an influential mathematical modeling study. However, the underlying deterministic model was criticized widely, and other modeling studies did not always confirm the study's finding. The objective of our study is to better understand the implications of different model structures and assumptions, so as to arrive at the best possible predictions of the long-term impact of UTT and the possibility of elimination of HIV.
Methods and Findings
We developed nine structurally different mathematical models of the South African HIV epidemic in a stepwise approach of increasing complexity and realism. The simplest model resembles the initial deterministic model, while the most comprehensive model is the stochastic microsimulation model STDSIM, which includes sexual networks and HIV stages with different degrees of infectiousness. We defined UTT as annual screening and immediate ART for all HIV-infected adults, starting at 13% in January 2012 and scaled up to 90% coverage by January 2019. All models predict elimination, yet those that capture more processes underlying the HIV transmission dynamics predict elimination at a later point in time, after 20 to 25 y. Importantly, the most comprehensive model predicts that the current strategy of ART at CD4 count ≤350 cells/µl will also lead to elimination, albeit 10 y later compared to UTT. Still, UTT remains cost-effective, as many additional life-years would be saved. The study's major limitations are that elimination was defined as incidence below 1/1,000 person-years rather than 0% prevalence, and drug resistance was not modeled.
Our results confirm previous predictions that the HIV epidemic in South Africa can be eliminated through universal testing and immediate treatment at 90% coverage. However, more realistic models show that elimination is likely to occur at a much later point in time than the initial model suggested. Also, UTT is a cost-effective intervention, but less cost-effective than previously predicted because the current South African ART treatment policy alone could already drive HIV into elimination.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
About 34 million people (mostly in low- and middle-income countries) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and every year another 2.5 million people become infected. HIV, which is usually transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected partner, gradually destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, people infected with HIV often died within ten years of infection. Then, in 1996, antiretroviral therapy (ART) became available, and, for people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition. However, ART was expensive, so HIV/AIDS remained a fatal condition for people living in resource-limited countries. In 2006, the international community set a target of achieving universal ART coverage by 2010, and ART programs were initiated in many resource-limited countries. Although universal ART coverage has still not been achieved in South Africa, where nearly 6 million people are HIV-positive, 80% of people in need of ART were receiving a World Health Organization–recommended ART regimen by October 2012.
Why Was This Study Done?
ART is usually started when a person's CD4 count falls below 350 cells/µl blood, but it is thought that treatment of all HIV-positive individuals, regardless of their CD4 count, could reduce HIV transmission by reducing the infectiousness of HIV-positive individuals (“treatment as prevention”). Might it be possible, therefore, to eliminate HIV by screening everyone annually for infection and treating all HIV-positive individuals immediately? In 2009, a mathematical modeling study suggested that seven years of universal test and treat (UTT) could eliminate HIV in South Africa. The deterministic (nonrandom) model used in that study has been widely criticized, however, and some subsequent modeling studies have reached different conclusions, probably because of differences in the models' structures and in the assumptions built into them. A better understanding of the reasons for the discrepancies between models would help policy-makers decide whether to introduce UTT, so, here, the researchers developed several increasingly complex and realistic models of the South African HIV epidemic and used these models to predict the long-term impact of UTT in South Africa.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed nine structurally different mathematical models of the South African HIV epidemic based on the STDSIM framework, a stochastic microsimulation model that simulates the life course of individuals in a dynamic network of sexual contacts and in which events such as HIV infection are random processes. The simplest model, which resembled the original deterministic model, was extended by sequentially adding in factors such as different HIV transmission rates at different stages of HIV infection and up-to-date assumptions regarding the ability of ART to reduce HIV infectiousness. All the models replicated the prevalence of HIV in South Africa (the proportion of the population that was HIV-positive) between 1990 and 2010, and all predicted that UTT (defined as annual screening of individuals age 15+ years and immediate ART for all HIV-infected adults starting in 2012 and scaled up to 90% coverage by 2019) would result in HIV elimination (less than one new infection per 1,000 person-years). However, whereas the simplest model predicted that UTT would eliminate HIV after seven years, the more complex, realistic models predicted elimination at much later time points. Importantly, the most comprehensive model predicted that, although elimination would be reached after about 17 years of UTT, the current strategy of ART initiation for HIV-positive individuals at a CD4 cell count at or below 350 cells/µl would also lead to HIV elimination, albeit ten years later than UTT.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings confirm previous predictions that UTT could eliminate HIV in South Africa, but the development of more realistic models than those used in the past suggests that HIV elimination would occur substantially later than originally predicted. Importantly, the most comprehensive model suggests that HIV could be eliminated in South Africa using the current strategy for ART treatment alone. As with all modeling studies, the accuracy of these findings depends on the assumptions built into the models and on the structure of the models. Thus, although these findings support the use of UTT as an intervention to eliminate HIV, more research with comprehensive models that incorporate factors such as data from ongoing trials of treatment as prevention is needed to determine the population-level impact and overall cost-effectiveness of UTT.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Ford and Hirnschall
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS in South Africa, on HIV treatment as prevention and the possibility of HIV elimination (in English and Spanish)
The 2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment (in several languages); its 2010 ART guidelines can be downloaded
The PLOS Medicine Collection Investigating the Impact of Treatment on New HIV Infections provides more information about HIV treatment as prevention
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert, through NAM/aidsmap, and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
PMCID: PMC3805487  PMID: 24167449
18.  Treatment of medulloblastoma with oncolytic measles viruses expressing the angiogenesis inhibitors endostatin and angiostatin 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:206.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3995427  PMID: 24646176
Oncolytic measles virus; Angiogenesis; Endostatin; Angiostatin; Medulloblastoma
19.  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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3300082  PMID: 22235810
20.  Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor-Armed Oncolytic Measles Virus Is an Effective Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine 
Human Gene Therapy  2013;24(7):644-654.
Oncolytic measles viruses (MV) derived from the live attenuated vaccine strain have been engineered for increased antitumor activity, and are currently under investigation in clinical phase 1 trials. Approaches with other viral vectors have shown that insertion of immunomodulatory transgenes enhances the therapeutic potency. In this study, we engineered MV for expression of the cytokine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). For the first time, therapeutic efficacy and adaptive immune response in the context of MV oncolysis could be evaluated in the previously established immunocompetent murine colon adenocarcinoma model MC38cea. MC38cea cells express the human carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), allowing for infection with retargeted MV. Intratumoral application of MV-GMCSF significantly delayed tumor progression and prolonged median overall survival compared with control virus-treated mice. Importantly, more than one-third of mice treated with MV-GMCSF showed complete tumor remission and rejected successive tumor reengraftment, demonstrating robust long-term protection. An enhanced cell-mediated tumor-specific immune response could be detected by lactate dehydrogenase assay and interferon-γ enzyme-linked immunospot assay. Furthermore, MV-GMCSF treatment correlated with increased abundance of tumor-infiltrating CD3+ lymphocytes analyzed by quantitative microscopy of tumor sections. These findings underline the potential of oncolytic, GM-CSF-expressing MV as an effective therapeutic cancer vaccine actively recruiting adaptive immune responses for enhanced therapeutic impact and tumor elimination. Thus, the treatment benefit of this combined immunovirotherapy approach has direct implications for future clinical trials.
Grossardt and colleagues engineer measles viruses (MV) for expression of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and evaluate its therapeutic efficacy and immune response in an established immunocompetent murine colon adenocarcinoma model. Intratumoral application of MV-GMCSF delayed tumor progression and significantly prolonged median overall survival, with more than one third of mice showing complete tumor remission as well as resistance to tumor re-engraftment.
PMCID: PMC3719441  PMID: 23642239
21.  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.
PMCID: PMC3755036  PMID: 23726825
Myxoma Virus; Oncolytic Virotherapy; Hematological Malignancies; Pancreatic Cancer
22.  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
23.  Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Encoding 15-Prostaglandin Dehydrogenase Mitigates Immune Suppression and Reduces Ectopic Primary and Metastatic Breast Cancer in Mice ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(14):7363-7371.
Oncolytic herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) viruses armed with immunomodulatory transgenes have shown potential for enhanced antitumor therapy by overcoming tumor-based immune suppression and promoting antitumor effector cell development. Previously, we reported that the new oncolytic HSV-1 virus, OncSyn (OS), engineered to fuse tumor cells, prevented tumor growth and metastasis to distal organs in the 4T1/BALB/c immunocompetent breast cancer mouse model, suggesting the elicitation of antitumor immune responses (Israyelyan et al., Hum. Gen. Ther. 18:5, 2007, and Israyelyan et al., Virol. J. 5:68, 2008). The OSV virus was constructed by deleting the OS viral host shutoff gene (vhs; UL41) to further attenuate the virus and permit dendritic cell activation and antigen presentation. Subsequently, the OSVP virus was constructed by inserting into the OSV viral genome a murine 15-prostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) expression cassette, designed to constitutively express 15-PGDH upon infection. 15-PGDH is a tumor suppressor protein and the primary enzyme responsible for the degradation of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which is known to promote tumor development. OSVP, OSV, and OS treatment of 4T1 tumors in BALB/c mice effectively reduced primary tumor growth and inhibited metastatic development of secondary tumors. OSVP was able to significantly inhibit the development and accumulation of 4T1 metastatic tumor cells in the lungs of treated mice. Ex vivo analysis of immune cells following treatment showed increased inflammatory cytokine production and the presence of mature dendritic cells for the OSVP, OSV, and OS viruses. A statistically significant decrease in splenic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) was observed only for OSVP-treated mice. These results show that intratumoral oncolytic herpes is highly immunogenic and suggest that 15-PGDH expression by OSVP enhanced the antitumor immune response initiated by viral infection of primary tumor cells, leading to reduced development of pulmonary metastases. The availability of the OSVP genome as a bacterial artificial chromosome allows for the rapid insertion of additional immunomodulatory genes that could further assist in the induction of potent antitumor immune responses against primary and metastatic tumors.
PMCID: PMC3126558  PMID: 21543507
24.  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
25.  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

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