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1.  MicroRNA-Detargeted Mengovirus for Oncolytic Virotherapy 
Journal of Virology  2016;90(8):4078-4092.
Mengovirus, a member of the Picornaviridae family, has a broad cell tropism and can cause encephalitis and myocarditis in multiple mammalian species. Attenuation has been achieved by shortening the polycytidine tract in the 5′ noncoding region (NCR). A poly(C)-truncated strain of mengovirus, vMC24, resulted in significant tumor regression in immunocompetent BALB/c mice bearing syngeneic MPC-11 plasmacytomas, but the associated toxicities were unacceptable. To enhance its safety profile, microRNA target sequences complementary to miR-124 or miR-125 (enriched in nervous tissue), miR-133 and miR-208 (enriched in cardiac tissue), or miR-142 (control; enriched in hematopoietic tissues) were inserted into the vMC24 NCRs. The microRNA-detargeted viruses showed reduced replication and cell killing specifically in cells expressing the cognate microRNAs, but certain insertions additionally were associated with nonspecific suppression of viral fitness in vivo. In vivo toxicity testing confirmed that miR-124 targets within the 5′ NCR suppressed virus replication in the central nervous system while miR-133 and miR-208 targets in the 3′ NCR suppressed viral replication in cardiac tissue. A dual-detargeted virus named vMC24-NC, with miR-124 targets in the 5′ NCR and miR-133 plus miR-208 targets in the 3′ NCR, showed the suppression of replication in both nervous and cardiac tissues but retained full oncolytic potency when administered by intratumoral (106 50% tissue culture infectious doses [TCID50]) or intravenous (107 to 108 TCID50) injection into BALB/c mice bearing MPC-11 plasmacytomas. Overall survival of vMC24-NC-treated tumor-bearing mice was significantly improved compared to that of nontreated mice. MicroRNA-detargeted mengoviruses offer a promising oncolytic virotherapy platform that merits further development for clinical translation.
IMPORTANCE The clinical potential of oncolytic virotherapy for cancer treatment has been well demonstrated, justifying the continued development of novel oncolytic viruses with enhanced potency. Here, we introduce mengovirus as a novel oncolytic agent. Mengovirus is appealing as an oncolytic virotherapy platform because of its small size, simple genome structure, rapid replication cycle, and broad cell/species tropism. However, mengovirus can cause encephalomyelitis and myocarditis. It can be partially attenuated by shortening the poly(C) tract in the 5′ NCR but remains capable of damaging cardiac and nervous tissue. Here, we further enhanced the safety profile of a poly(C)-truncated mengovirus by incorporating muscle- and neuron-specific microRNA target sequences into the viral genome. This dual-detargeted virus has reduced pathogenesis but retained potent oncolytic activity. Our data show that microRNA targeting can be used to further increase the safety of an attenuated mengovirus, providing a basis for its development as an oncolytic platform.
PMCID: PMC4810567  PMID: 26865716
2.  Recombinant mumps virus as a cancer therapeutic agent 
Mumps virus belongs to the family of Paramyxoviridae and has the potential to be an oncolytic agent. Mumps virus Urabe strain had been tested in the clinical setting as a treatment for human cancer four decades ago in Japan. These clinical studies demonstrated that mumps virus could be a promising cancer therapeutic agent that showed significant antitumor activity against various types of cancers. Since oncolytic virotherapy was not in the limelight until the beginning of the 21st century, the interest to pursue mumps virus for cancer treatment slowly faded away. Recent success stories of oncolytic clinical trials prompted us to resurrect the mumps virus and to explore its potential for cancer treatment. We have obtained the Urabe strain of mumps virus from Osaka University, Japan, which was used in the earlier human clinical trials. In this report we describe the development of a reverse genetics system from a major isolate of this Urabe strain mumps virus stock, and the construction and characterization of several recombinant mumps viruses with additional transgenes. We present initial data demonstrating these recombinant mumps viruses have oncolytic activity against tumor cell lines in vitro and some efficacy in preliminary pilot animal tumor models.
PMCID: PMC4980112  PMID: 27556105
3.  Photo-active collagen systems with controlled triple helix architecture 
The design of photo-active collagen systems is presented as a basis for establishing biomimetic materials with varied network architecture and programmable macroscopic properties. Following in-house isolation of type I collagen, reaction with vinyl-bearing compounds of varied backbone rigidity, i.e. 4-vinylbenzyl chloride (4VBC) and glycidyl methacrylate (GMA), was carried out. TNBS colorimetric assay, 1H-NMR and ATR-FTIR confirmed covalent and tunable functionalization of collagen lysines. Depending on the type and extent of functionalization, controlled stability and thermal denaturation of triple helices were observed via circular dichroism (CD), whereby the hydrogen-bonding capability of introduced moieties was shown to play a major role. Full gel formation was observed following photo-activation of functionalized collagen solutions. The presence of a covalent network only slightly affected collagen triple helix conformation (as observed by WAXS and ATR-FTIR), confirming the structural organization of functionalized collagen precursors. Photo-activated hydrogels demonstrated an increased denaturation temperature (DSC) with respect to native collagen, suggesting that the formation of the covalent network successfully stabilized collagen triple helices. Moreover, biocompatibility and mechanical competence of obtained hydrogels were successfully demonstrated under physiologically-relevant conditions. These results demonstrate that this novel synthetic approach enabled the formation of biocompatible collagen systems with defined network architecture and programmable macroscopic properties, which can only partially be obtained with current synthetic methods.
PMCID: PMC4934656  PMID: 27398214
4.  Tunable Drug-loading Capability of Chitosan Hydrogels with Varied Network Architectures 
Acta biomaterialia  2013;10(2):821-830.
Advanced bioactive systems with defined macroscopic properties and spatio-temporal sequestration of extracellular biomacromolecules are highly desirable for next generation therapeutics. Here, chitosan hydrogels were prepared with neutral or negatively-charged crosslinkers in order to promote selective electrostatic complexation with charged drugs. Chitosan (CT) was functionalized with varied dicarboxylic acids, such as tartaric acid (TA), poly(ethylene glycol) bis(carboxymethyl) ether (PEG), 1.4-Phenylenediacetic acid (4Ph) and 5-Sulfoisophthalic acid monosodium salt (PhS), whereby PhS was hypothesized to act as a simple mimetic of heparin. ATR FT-IR showed the presence of C=O amide I, N-H amide II and C=O ester bands, providing evidence of covalent network formation. The crosslinker content was reversely quantified by 1H-NMR on partially-degraded network oligomers, so that 18 mol.-% PhS was exemplarily determined. Swellability (SR: 299±65–1054±121 wt.-%), compressability (E: 2.1±0.9–9.2±2.3 kPa), material morphology, and drug-loading capability were successfully adjusted based on the selected network architecture. Here, hydrogel incubation with model drugs of varied electrostatic charge, i.e. allura red (AR, --), methyl orange (MO, -) or methylene blue (MB, +), resulted in direct hydrogel-dye electrostatic complexation. Importantly, the cationic compound, MB, showed different incorporation behaviours, depending on the electrostatic character of the selected crosslinker. In light of this tuneable drug-loading capability, these CT hydrogels would be highly attractive as drug reservoirs towards e.g. the fabrication of tissue models in vitro.
PMCID: PMC4933205  PMID: 24157693
chitosan; bioactive hydrogels; drug loading; sulfonic acid; crosslinked network
5.  Triple-helical collagen hydrogels via covalent aromatic functionalization with 1,3-Phenylenediacetic acid 
Chemical crosslinking of collagen is a general strategy to reproduce macroscale tissue properties in physiological environment. However, simultaneous control of protein conformation, material properties and biofunctionality is highly challenging with current synthetic strategies. Consequently, the potentially-diverse clinical applications of collagen-based biomaterials cannot be fully realised. In order to establish defined biomacromolecular systems for mineralised tissue applications, type I collagen was functionalised with 1,3-Phenylenediacetic acid (Ph) and investigated at the molecular, macroscopic and functional levels. Preserved triple helix conformation was observed in obtained covalent networks via ATR-FTIR (AIII/A1450 ~ 1) and WAXS, while network crosslinking degree (C: 87-99 mol.-%) could be adjusted based on specific reaction conditions. Decreased swelling ratio (SR: 823-1285 wt.-%) and increased thermo-mechanical (Td: 80-88 °C; E: 28-35 kPa; σmax: 6-8 kPa; εb: 53-58 %) properties were observed compared to state-of-the-art carbodiimide (EDC)-crosslinked collagen controls, likely related to the intermolecular covalent incorporation of the aromatic segment. Ph-crosslinked hydrogels displayed nearly intact material integrity and only a slight mass decrease (MR: 5-11 wt. %) following 1-week incubation in either PBS or simulated body fluid (SBF), in contrast to EDC-crosslinked collagen (MR: 33-58 wt. %). Furthermore, FTIR, SEM and EDS revealed deposition of a calcium-phosphate phase on SBF-retrieved samples, whereby an increased calcium phosphate ratio (Ca/P: 0.84-1.41) was observed in hydrogels with higher Ph content. 72-hour material extracts were well tolerated by L929 mouse fibroblasts, whereby cell confluence and metabolic activity (MTS assay) were comparable to those of cells cultured in cell culture medium (positive control). In light of their controlled structure-function properties, these biocompatible collagen hydrogels represent attractive material systems for potential mineralised tissue applications.
PMCID: PMC4933206  PMID: 27390619
6.  Modes of hole formation in long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) retrieved from South Eastern Ghana 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:547.
Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are expected to provide biological efficacy for at least three years in the field and be sufficiently durable to maintain physical protection. Unfortunately, LLINs structurally deteriorate during use accumulating holes. Hitherto, definitive identification of the causes of hole formation has been difficult based upon qualitative surveys.
In this preliminary study, optical and scanning electron microscopy of damage in used polyester (PET) and polyethylene (PE) LLINs randomly collected via a household survey from South Eastern Ghana (n =100) were utilised to identify the cause of individual holes.
Multiple damage mechanisms were identified. In both PET and PE LLINs, the majority of holes were initiated by filament fracture (ductile failure and cutting) and thermal damage.
No strong correlation was found between the bursting strength of retrieved LLINs and overall hole frequency in either the PET or PE nets suggesting that bursting strength is an unreliable predictor of resistance to hole formation if used as a sole parameter.
PMCID: PMC4279592  PMID: 25476877
Insecticide-treated bednets; Mosquito nets; Damage; Defect; Holes
7.  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
8.  The use of the NIS reporter gene for optimizing oncolytic virotherapy 
Introduction: Oncolytic viruses are experimental cancer therapies being translated to the clinic. They are unique in their ability to amplify within the body, therefore requiring careful monitoring of viral replication and biodistribution. Traditional monitoring strategies fail to recapitulate the dynamic nature of oncolytic virotherapy. Consequently, clinically relevant, noninvasive, high resolution strategies are needed to effectively track virotherapy in real time.
Areas covered: The expression of the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) reporter gene is tightly coupled to viral genome replication and mediates radioisotope concentration, allowing noninvasive molecular nuclear imaging of active viral infection with high resolution. This provides insight into replication kinetics, biodistribution, the impact of vector design, administration, and dosing on therapeutic outcomes, and highlights the heterogeneity of spatial distribution and temporal evolution of infection. NIS-mediated imaging in clinical trials confirms the feasibility of this technology to noninvasively and longitudinally observe oncolytic virus infection, replication, and distribution.
Expert opinion: NIS-mediated imaging provides detailed functional and molecular information on the evolution of oncolytic virus infection in living animals. The use of NIS reporter gene imaging has rapidly advanced to provide unparalleled insight into the spatial and temporal context of oncolytic infection which will be integral to optimization of oncolytic treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC4732458  PMID: 26457362
molecular imaging; NIS; oncolytic virus; reporter gene
9.  A Broad Range of Dose Optima Achieve High-level, Long-term Gene Expression After Hydrodynamic Delivery of Sleeping Beauty Transposons Using Hyperactive SB100x Transposase 
The Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system has been shown to enable long-term gene expression by integrating new sequences into host cell chromosomes. We found that the recently reported SB100x hyperactive transposase conferred a surprisingly high level of long-term expression after hydrodynamic delivery of luciferase-encoding reporter transposons in the mouse. We conducted dose-ranging studies to determine the effect of varying the amount of SB100x transposase-encoding plasmid (pCMV-SB100x) at a set dose of luciferase transposon and of varying the amount of transposon-encoding DNA at a set dose of pCMV-SB100x in hydrodynamically injected mice. Animals were immunosuppressed using cyclophosphamide in order to prevent an antiluciferase immune response. At a set dose of transposon DNA (25 µg), we observed a broad range of pCMV-SB100x doses (0.1–2.5 µg) conferring optimal levels of long-term expression (>1011 photons/second/cm2). At a fixed dose of 0.5 μg of pCMV-SB100x, maximal long-term luciferase expression (>1010 photons/second/cm2) was achieved at a transposon dose of 5–125 μg. We also found that in the linear range of transposon doses (100 ng), co-delivering the CMV-SB100x sequence on the same plasmid was less effective in achieving long-term expression than delivery on separate plasmids. These results show marked flexibility in the doses of SB transposon plus pCMV-SB100x that achieve maximal SB-mediated gene transfer efficiency and long-term gene expression after hydrodynamic DNA delivery to mouse liver.
PMCID: PMC5012552  PMID: 26784638
hydrodynamic; liver; Sleeping Beauty; transposase; transposon
10.  Oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus and bortezomib are antagonistic against myeloma cells in vitro but have additive anti-myeloma activity in vivo 
Experimental hematology  2013;41(12):10.1016/j.exphem.2013.09.005.
Multiple myeloma cells are highly sensitive to the oncolytic effects of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which specifically targets and kills cancer cells. Myeloma cells are also exquisitely sensitive to the cytotoxic effects of the clinically-approved proteasome inhibitor bortezomib. Therefore, we sought to determine if the combination of VSV and bortezomib would enhance tumor cell killing. However, as shown here, combining these two agents in vitro results in antagonism. We show that bortezomib inhibits VSV replication and spread. We found that bortezomib inhibits VSV-induced NF-κB activation and, using the NF-κB-specific inhibitor BMS-345541, that VSV requires NF-κB activity in order to efficiently spread in myeloma cells. In contrast to other cancer cell lines, viral titer is not recovered by BMS-345541 when myeloma cells are pre-treated with interferon (IFN)-β. Thus, inhibiting NF-κB activity, either with bortezomib or BMS-345541, results in reduced VSV titers in myeloma cells in vitro. However, when VSV and bortezomib are combined in vivo, in two syngeneic, immunocompetent myeloma models, the combination reduces tumor burden to a greater degree than VSV as a single agent. Intra-tumoral VSV viral load is unchanged when mice are concomitantly treated with bortezomib as compared to VSV treatment alone. To our knowledge, this is the first report analyzing the combination of VSV and bortezomib in vivo. Although antagonism between VSV and bortezomib is seen in vitro, analyzing these cells in the context of their host environment shows that bortezomib enhances VSV response, suggesting that this combination will also enhance response in myeloma patients.
PMCID: PMC3858457  PMID: 24067362
Multiple myeloma; oncolytic viruses; vesicular stomatitis virus; bortezomib
11.  Safety Studies on Intravenous Administration of Oncolytic Recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus in Purpose-Bred Beagle Dogs 
VSV-IFNβ-NIS is a novel recombinant oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) with documented efficacy and safety in preclinical murine models of cancer. To facilitate clinical translation of this promising oncolytic therapy in patients with disseminated cancer, we are utilizing a comparative oncology approach to gather data describing the safety and efficacy of systemic VSV-IFNβ-NIS administration in dogs with naturally occurring cancer. In support of this, we executed a dose-escalation study in purpose-bred dogs to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of systemic VSV-hIFNβ-NIS, characterize the adverse event profile, and describe routes and duration of viral shedding in healthy, immune-competent dogs. The data indicate that an intravenous dose of 1010 TCID50 is well tolerated in dogs. Expected adverse events were mild to moderate fever, self-limiting nausea and vomiting, lymphopenia, and oral mucosal lesions. Unexpected adverse events included prolongation of partial thromboplastin time, development of bacterial urinary tract infection, and scrotal dermatitis, and in one dog receiving 1011 TCID50 (10×the MTD), the development of severe hepatotoxicity and symptoms of shock leading to euthanasia. Viral shedding data indicate that detectable viral genome in blood diminishes rapidly with anti-VSV neutralizing antibodies detectable in blood as early as day 5 postintravenous virus administration. While low levels of viral genome copies were detectable in plasma, urine, and buccal swabs of dogs treated at the MTD, no infectious virus was detectable in plasma, urine, or buccal swabs at any of the doses tested. These studies confirm that VSV can be safely administered systemically in dogs, justifying the use of oncolytic VSV as a novel therapy for the treatment of canine cancer.
PMCID: PMC4124537  PMID: 24219832
12.  Vesiculovirus Neutralization by Natural IgM and Complement 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(11):6148-6157.
Because of its very low human seroprevalence, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has promise as a systemic oncolytic agent for human cancer therapy. However, as demonstrated in this report, the VSV infectious titer drops by 4 log units during the first hour of exposure to nonimmune human serum. This neutralization occurs relatively slowly and is mediated by the concerted actions of natural IgM and complement. Maraba virus, whose G protein is about 80% homologous to that of VSV, is relatively resistant to the neutralizing activity of nonimmune human serum. We therefore constructed and rescued a recombinant VSV whose G gene was replaced by the corresponding gene from Maraba virus. Comparison of the parental VSV and VSV with Maraba G substituted revealed nearly identical host range properties and replication kinetics on a panel of tumor cell lines. Moreover, in contrast to the parental VSV, the VSV with Maraba G substituted was resistant to nonimmune human serum. Overall, our data suggest that VSV with Maraba G substituted should be further investigated as a candidate for human systemic oncolytic virotherapy applications.
IMPORTANCE Oncolytic virotherapy is a promising approach for the treatment of disseminated cancers, but antibody neutralization of circulating oncolytic virus particles remains a formidable barrier. In this work, we developed a pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) with a glycoprotein of Maraba virus, a closely related but serologically distinct member of the family Rhabdoviridae, which demonstrated greatly diminished susceptibility to both nonimmune and VSV-immune serum neutralization. VSV with Maraba G substituted or lentiviral vectors should therefore be further investigated as candidates for human systemic oncolytic virotherapy and gene therapy applications.
PMCID: PMC4093862  PMID: 24648451
Head & neck  2014;36(11):1619-1627.
VSV-IFN-β, a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus expressing interferon-β, has demonstrated antitumor activity in vitro and in vivo. In preparation for clinical testing in human squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck, we conducted preclinical studies of VSV-IFN-β in syngeneic SCC models.
Methods and Results
In vitro, VSV-IFN-β (expressing rat or mouse IFN-β) induced cytotoxicity and propagated in rat (FAT-7) or mouse (SCC-VII) SCC cells during normoxia and hypoxia. In vivo, intratumoral administration of VSV-rat-IFN-β or VSV-human-IFN-β in FAT-7 bearing or non-tumor bearing immunocompetent rats did not result in acute organ toxicity or death. VSV-r-IFN-β replicated predominantly in tumors and a dose dependent anti-VSV antibody response was observed. Intratumoral or intravenous administration of VSV-IFN-β resulted in growth delay and improved survival compared to controls.
The above data confirm safety and feasibility of VSV-IFN-β administration in immunocompetent animals and support its clinical evaluation in advanced human head and neck cancer.
PMCID: PMC3969865  PMID: 24115092
Squamous cell carcinoma; Vesicular Stomatitis Virus; biodistribution; preclinical studies; syngeneic models
14.  Cellular Immune Response Against Firefly Luciferase After Sleeping Beauty–Mediated Gene Transfer In Vivo 
Human Gene Therapy  2014;25(11):955-965.
The Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system has been shown to mediate new gene sequence integration resulting in long-term expression. Here the effectiveness of hyperactive SB100X transposase was tested, and we found that hydrodynamic co-delivery of a firefly luciferase transposon (pT2/CaL) along with SB100X transposase (pCMV-SB100X) resulted in remarkably sustained, high levels of luciferase expression. However, after 4 weeks there was a rapid, animal-by-animal loss of luciferase expression that was not observed in immunodeficient mice. We hypothesized that this sustained, high-level luciferase expression achieved using the SB100X transposase elicits an immune response in pT2/CaL co-administered mice, which was supported by the rapid loss of luciferase expression upon challenge of previously treated animals and in naive animals adoptively transferred with splenocytes from previously treated animals. Specificity of the immune response to luciferase was demonstrated by increased cytokine expression in splenocytes after exposure to luciferase peptide in parallel with MHC I–luciferase peptide tetramer binding. This anti-luciferase immune response observed following continuous, high-level luciferase expression in vivo clearly impacts its use as an in vivo reporter. As both an immunogen and an extremely sensitive reporter, luciferase is also a useful model system for the study of immune responses following in vivo gene transfer and expression.
PMCID: PMC4251089  PMID: 25093708
15.  Vesicular stomatitis virus expressing interferon-β is oncolytic and promotes antitumor immune responses in a syngeneic murine model of non-small cell lung cancer 
Oncotarget  2015;6(32):33165-33177.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a potent oncolytic virus for many tumors. VSV that produces interferon-β (VSV-IFNβ) is now in early clinical testing for solid tumors. Here, the preclinical activity of VSV and VSV-IFNβ against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is reported. NSCLC cell lines were treated in vitro with VSV expressing green fluorescence protein (VSV-GFP) and VSV-IFNβ. VSV-GFP and VSV-IFNβ were active against NSCLC cells. JAK/STAT inhibition with ruxolitinib re-sensitized resistant H838 cells to VSV-IFNβ mediated oncolysis. Intratumoral injections of VSV-GFP and VSV-IFNβ reduced tumor growth and weight in H2009 nude mouse xenografts (p < 0.01). A similar trend was observed in A549 xenografts. Syngeneic LM2 lung tumors grown in flanks of A/J mice were injected with VSV-IFNβ intratumorally. Treatment of LM2 tumors with VSV-IFNβ resulted in tumor regression, prolonged survival (p < 0.0001), and cure of 30% of mice. Intratumoral injection of VSV-IFNβ resulted in decreased tumor-infiltrating regulatory T cells (Treg) and increased CD8+ T cells. Tumor cell expression of PDL-1 was increased after VSV-IFNβ treatment. VSV-IFNβ has potent antitumor effects and promotes systemic antitumor immunity. These data support further clinical investigation of VSV-IFNβ for NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4741756  PMID: 26431376
oncolytic virus; NSCLC; interferon-β; VSV; Treg
16.  Compositional and in Vitro Evaluation of Nonwoven Type I Collagen/Poly-dl-lactic Acid Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration 
Poly-dl-lactic acid (PDLLA) was blended with type I collagen to attempt to overcome the instantaneous gelation of electrospun collagen scaffolds in biological environments. Scaffolds based on blends of type I collagen and PDLLA were investigated for material stability in cell culture conditions (37 °C; 5% CO2) in which post-electrospinning glutaraldehyde crosslinking was also applied. The resulting wet-stable webs were cultured with bone marrow stromal cells (HBMSC) for five weeks. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy (FTIR) and biochemical assays were used to characterise the scaffolds and the consequent cell-scaffold constructs. To investigate any electrospinning-induced denaturation of collagen, identical PDLLA/collagen and PDLLA/gelatine blends were electrospun and their potential to promote osteogenic differentiation investigated. PDLLA/collagen blends with w/w ratios of 40/60, 60/40 and 80/20 resulted in satisfactory wet stabilities in a humid environment, although chemical crosslinking was essential to ensure long term material cell culture. Scaffolds of PDLLA/collagen at a 60:40 weight ratio provided the greatest stability over a five-week culture period. The PDLLA/collagen scaffolds promoted greater cell proliferation and osteogenic differentiation compared to HMBSCs seeded on the corresponding PDLLA/gelatine scaffolds, suggesting that any electrospinning-induced collagen denaturation did not affect material biofunctionality within 5 weeks in vitro.
PMCID: PMC4598677  PMID: 26251924
electrospinning; collagen; poly-dl-lactic acid; crosslinking; nonwoven
17.  Characteristics of Oncolytic Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Displaying Tumor-Targeting Ligands 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(24):13543-13555.
We sought proof of principle that tumor-targeting ligands can be displayed on the surface of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) by engineering its glycoprotein. Here, we successfully rescued VSVs displaying tumor vasculature-targeting ligands. By using a rational approach, we investigated various feasible insertion sites on the G protein of VSV (VSV-G) for display of tumor vasculature-targeting ligands, cyclic RGD (cRGD) and echistatin. We found seven sites on VSV-G that tolerated insertion of the 9-residue cRGD peptide, two of which could tolerate insertion of the 49-amino acid echistatin domain. All of the ligand-displaying viruses replicated as well as the parental virus. In vitro studies demonstrated that the VSV-echistatin viruses specifically bound to targeted integrins. Since the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) was recently identified as a major receptor for VSV, we investigated the entry of ligand-displaying viruses after masking LDLR. The experiment showed that the modified viruses can enter the cell independently of LDLR, whereas entry of unmodified virus is significantly blocked by a specific monoclonal antibody against LDLR. Both parental and ligand-displaying viruses displayed equal oncolytic efficacies in a syngeneic mouse myeloma model. We further demonstrated that single-chain antibody fragments against tumor-specific antigens can be inserted at the N terminus of the G protein and that corresponding replication-competent VSVs can be rescued efficiently. Overall, we demonstrated that functional tumor-targeting ligands can be displayed on replication-competent VSVs without perturbing viral growth and oncolytic efficacy. This study provides a rational foundation for the future development of fully retargeted oncolytic VSVs.
PMCID: PMC3838279  PMID: 24089573
19.  Oncolytic potency of HER-2 retargeted VSV-FH hybrid viruses: the role of receptor ligand affinity 
The hybrid oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV-FH) deleted for its G glycoprotein and displaying the measles virus (MV) envelope glycoproteins (hemagglutinin H and fusion F) is fusogenic, infects cells via any of the three MV receptors and has potent oncolytic activity against subcutaneous and disseminated myeloma tumors. To tailor VSV-FH as an oncolytic virus for ovarian cancer, we ablated its natural tropism and retargeted the virus by display of a single-chain antibody (scFv) with specificity to the HER-2/neu receptor. A panel of six VSVFH-αHER2 viruses displaying anti-HER2 scFv that bind to the same HER2 epitope but with different Kd (10−6 to 10−11 M, VSVFH-αHER2#6 to #11, respectively) were rescued and characterized. A Kd of at least 10−8 M is required for infection of HER-2 positive SKOV3ip.1 cells. The higher affinity viruses (>10−8 M) were able to infect and fuse SKOV3ip.1 cells more efficiently, inducing more extensive cytopathic effects. We next compared the antitumor potency of the viruses against SKOV3ip.1 tumor xenografts. In contrast to the saline-treated animals, one intratumoral injection of VSVFH-αHER2#9, #10, or #11 resulted in efficient tumor control. There was no significant difference between viruses with an affinity higher than 10−9 M in terms of oncolytic potency. VSVFH-αHER2 virus may be a promising agent for the treatment of HER-2 positive malignancies.
PMCID: PMC4782949  PMID: 27119107
20.  Meningeal myeloma deposits adversely impact the therapeutic index of an oncolytic VSV 
Cancer gene therapy  2013;20(11):616-621.
Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) is neuropathogenic in rodents but can be attenuated 50-fold by engineering the mouse interferon-beta (IFN-β) gene into its genome. Intravenously administered VSVs encoding IFN-β have potent activity against subcutaneous tumors in the 5TGM1 mouse myeloma model, without attendant neurotoxicity. However, when 5TGM1 tumor cells were seeded intravenously, virus-treated mice with advanced myeloma developed clinical signs suggestive of meningoencephalitis. Co-administration of a known active antimyeloma agent did not prolong survival, further suggesting that deaths were due to viral toxicity, not tumor burden. Histological analysis revealed that systemically administered 5TGM1 cells seed to the CNS forming meningeal tumor deposits and that VSV infects and destroys these tumors. Death is presumably a consequence of meningeal damage and/or direct transmission of virus to adjacent neural tissue. In light of these studies, extreme caution is warranted in clinical testing of attenuated VSVs, particularly in patients with CNS tumor deposits.
PMCID: PMC3855306  PMID: 24176894
22.  Measles vaccine strains for virotherapy of non-small cell lung carcinoma 
Oncolytic virus therapy is a promising therapy for numerous tumor types. Edmonston-strain measles virus (MV) has been tested in clinical trials for ovarian cancer, glioma, and myeloma. Therefore, the antitumor activity of MV against NSCLC was assessed.
Human NSCLC cells and immortalized lung epithelial cell lines, Beas2B, were infected with either MV producing GFP (MV-GFP) or MV producing carcinoembryonic antigen (MV-CEA). Cells were assessed for viability, induction of apoptosis by caspase and PARP cleavage, and for viral transgene production. The dependency of MV entry on CD46 and nectin-4 were determined using blocking antibodies. The role of host translational activity on viral replication was assessed by overexpression of eIF4E and translation inhibition. Antitumor activity was assessed by measuring treated NSCLC xenografts from flanks of nude mice.
MV infection of NSCLC cells results in potent cell killing in most of the cell lines compared to immortalized Beas2B cells and induces apoptosis. MV infection was prevented by blocking of CD46, however was independent of nectin-4 blockade. Tumor weights are diminished following intratumoral injections of MV-CEA in 1 of 2 cell lines and result in detectable viral transgene in serum of mice.
These data indicate that MV is oncolytic for human NSCLC and this was independent of nectin-4 expression. Dysregulated protein translational machinery may play a role in determining tumor tropism in NSCLC. MV combined with gemcitabine could be explored further as chemovirotherapy for NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4145613  PMID: 25157763
non-small cell lung cancer; measles virus; translation
23.  Trends and Outcomes of Modern Staging of Solitary Plasmacytoma of Bone 
American journal of hematology  2012;87(7):647-651.
Over the years, the definition of solitary plasmacytoma of bone (SPB) has shifted in part due to more modern testing capabilities. We hypothesized that outcomes data based on antiquated testing would not reflect outcomes using modern staging. To address both how widely applied adequate diagnostic staging is and what the progression rates of SPB as defined with state-of-the-art staging are, we performed a retrospective chart review of those patients with a diagnosis of SPB seen at our institution over the past decade. Two groups were studied: all patients with SPB (n=127); and those patients referred to our institution for an indication other than progression (n=91). The median PFS for those two groups were 26 months and 42 months, respectively. At baseline, only a minority of patients had state-of-the-art staging. The 5 patients with both modern imaging and a negative bone marrow had a 21 month PFS of 100%. Patients with plasmacytoma plus--one plasmacytoma but bone marrow consistent with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance--fair worse than true SPB. The use of modern staging appears to be beneficial in the initial staging of SPB, and there may be a role for PET/CT in future diagnostic work up.
PMCID: PMC4440242  PMID: 22549792
24.  PEGylation of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Extends Virus Persistence in Blood Circulation of Passively Immunized Mice 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(7):3752-3759.
We are developing oncolytic vesicular stomatitis viruses (VSVs) for systemic treatment of multiple myeloma, an incurable malignancy of antibody-secreting plasma cells that are specifically localized in the bone marrow. One of the presumed advantages for using VSV as an oncolytic virus is that human infections are rare and preexisting anti-VSV immunity is typically lacking in cancer patients, which is very important for clinical success. However, our studies show that nonimmune human and mouse serum can neutralize clinical-grade VSV, reducing the titer by up to 4 log units in 60 min. In addition, we show that neutralizing anti-VSV antibodies negate the antitumor efficacy of VSV, a concern for repeat VSV administration. We have investigated the potential use of covalent modification of VSV with polyethylene glycol (PEG) or a function-spacer-lipid (FSL)–PEG construct to inhibit serum neutralization and to limit hepatosplenic sequestration of systemically delivered VSV. We report that in mice passively immunized with neutralizing anti-VSV antibodies, PEGylation of VSV improved the persistence of VSV in the blood circulation, maintaining a more than 1-log-unit increase in VSV genome copies for up to 1 h compared to the genome copy numbers for the non-PEGylated virus, which was mostly cleared within 10 min after intravenous injection. We are currently investigating if this increase in PEGylated VSV circulating half-life can translate to increased virus delivery and better efficacy in mouse models of multiple myeloma.
PMCID: PMC3624195  PMID: 23325695
25.  Neuroattenuation of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus through Picornaviral Internal Ribosome Entry Sites 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(6):3217-3228.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is potent and a highly promising agent for the treatment of cancer. However, translation of VSV oncolytic virotherapy into the clinic is being hindered by its inherent neurotoxicity. It has been demonstrated that selected picornaviral internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements possess restricted activity in neuronal tissues. We therefore sought to determine whether the picornavirus IRES could be engineered into VSV to attenuate its neuropathogenicity. We have used IRES elements from human rhinovirus type 2 (HRV2) and foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) to control the translation of the matrix gene (M), which plays a major role in VSV virulence. In vitro studies revealed slowed growth kinetics of IRES-controlled VSVs in most of the cell lines tested. However, in vivo studies explicitly demonstrated that IRES elements of HRV2 and FMDV severely attenuated the neurovirulence of VSV without perturbing its oncolytic potency.
PMCID: PMC3592162  PMID: 23283963

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