The human population is currently faced with the potential use of natural or recombinant variola and monkeypox viruses as biological weapons. Furthermore, the emergence of human monkeypox in Africa and its expanding environs poses a significant natural threat. Such occurrences would require therapeutic and prophylactic intervention with antivirals to minimize morbidity and mortality of exposed populations. Two orally-bioavailable antivirals are currently in clinical trials; namely CMX001, an ether-lipid analogue of cidofovir with activity at the DNA replication stage and ST-246, a novel viral egress inhibitor. Both of these drugs have previously been evaluated in the ectromelia/mousepox system; however, the trigger for intervention was not linked to a disease biomarker or a specific marker of virus replication. In this study we used lethal, intranasal, ectromelia virus infections of C57BL/6 and hairless SKH1 mice to model human disease and evaluate exanthematous rash (rash) as an indicator to initiate antiviral treatment. We show that significant protection can be provided to C57BL/6 mice by CMX001 or ST-246 when therapy is initiated on day 6 post infection or earlier. We also show that significant protection can be provided to SKH1 mice treated with CMX001 at day 3 post infection or earlier, but this is 4 or more days before detection of rash (ST-246 not tested). Although in this model rash could not be used as a treatment trigger, viral DNA was detected in blood by day 4 post infection and in the oropharyngeal secretions (saliva) by day 2-3 post infection – thus providing robust and specific markers of virus replication for therapy initiation. These findings are discussed in the context of current respiratory challenge animal models in use for the evaluation of poxvirus antivirals.
Ectromelia; bioterrorism; rash; variola; monkeypox; smallpox; biological weapon
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer with a high rate of recurrence. We propose a novel oncolytic vaccinia virus (VACV)-based therapy using expression of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-4 for treating GBM and preventing recurrence.
We have utilized clinically relevant, orthotopic xenograft models of GBM based on tumor-biopsy derived, primary cancer stem cell (CSC) lines. One of the cell lines, after being transduced with a cDNA encoding firefly luciferase, could be used for real time tumor imaging. A VACV that expresses BMP-4 was constructed and utilized for infecting several primary glioma cultures besides conventional serum-grown glioma cell lines. This virus was also delivered intracranially upon implantation of the GBM CSCs in mice to determine effects on tumor growth.
We found that the VACV that overexpresses BMP-4 demonstrated heightened replication and cytotoxic activity in GBM CSC cultures with a broad spectrum of activity across several different patient-biopsy cultures. Intracranial inoculation of mice with this virus resulted in a tumor size equal to or below that at the time of injection. This resulted in survival of 100% of the treated mice up to 84 days post inoculation, significantly superior to that of a VACV lacking BMP-4 expression. When mice with a higher tumor burden were injected with the VACV lacking BMP-4, 80% of the mice showed tumor recurrence. In contrast, no recurrence was seen when mice were injected with the VACV expressing BMP-4, possibly due to induction of differentiation in the CSC population and subsequently serving as a better host for VACV infection and oncolysis. This lack of recurrence resulted in superior survival in the BMP-4 VACV treated group.
Based on these findings we propose a novel VACV therapy for treating GBM, which would allow tumor specific production of drugs in the future in combination with BMPs which would simultaneously control tumor maintenance and facilitate CSC differentiation, respectively, thereby causing sustained tumor regression without recurrence.
Vaccinia virus (VACV); Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM); Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP); Cancer stem cells (CSCs) and differentiation
Despite availability of efficient treatment regimens for early stage colorectal cancer, treatment regimens for late stage colorectal cancer are generally not effective and thus need improvement. Oncolytic virotherapy using replication-competent vaccinia virus (VACV) strains is a promising new strategy for therapy of a variety of human cancers.
Oncolytic efficacy of replication-competent vaccinia virus GLV-1h68 was analyzed in both, cell cultures and subcutaneous xenograft tumor models.
In this study we demonstrated for the first time that the replication-competent recombinant VACV GLV-1h68 efficiently infected, replicated in, and subsequently lysed various human colorectal cancer lines (Colo 205, HCT-15, HCT-116, HT-29, and SW-620) derived from patients at all four stages of disease. Additionally, in tumor xenograft models in athymic nude mice, a single injection of intravenously administered GLV-1h68 significantly inhibited tumor growth of two different human colorectal cell line tumors (Duke’s type A-stage HCT-116 and Duke’s type C-stage SW-620), significantly improving survival compared to untreated mice. Expression of the viral marker gene ruc-gfp allowed for real-time analysis of the virus infection in cell cultures and in mice. GLV-1h68 treatment was well-tolerated in all animals and viral replication was confined to the tumor. GLV-1h68 treatment elicited a significant up-regulation of murine immune-related antigens like IFN-γ, IP-10, MCP-1, MCP-3, MCP-5, RANTES and TNF-γ and a greater infiltration of macrophages and NK cells in tumors as compared to untreated controls.
The anti-tumor activity observed against colorectal cancer cells in these studies was a result of direct viral oncolysis by GLV-1h68 and inflammation-mediated innate immune responses. The therapeutic effects occurred in tumors regardless of the stage of disease from which the cells were derived. Thus, the recombinant vaccinia virus GLV-1h68 has the potential to treat colorectal cancers independently of the stage of progression.
Cancer; Vaccinia virus; Colorectal; Oncolytic virotherapy; Metastasis
Oncolytic viruses, including vaccinia virus (VACV), are a promising alternative to classical mono-cancer treatment methods such as surgery, chemo- or radiotherapy. However, combined therapeutic modalities may be more effective than mono-therapies. In this study, we enhanced the effectiveness of oncolytic virotherapy by matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-9)-mediated degradation of proteins of the tumoral extracellular matrix (ECM), leading to increased viral distribution within the tumors.
For this study, the oncolytic vaccinia virus GLV-1h255, containing the mmp-9 gene, was constructed and used to treat PC-3 tumor-bearing mice, achieving an intra-tumoral over-expression of MMP-9. The intra-tumoral MMP-9 content was quantified by immunohistochemistry in tumor sections. Therapeutic efficacy of GLV-1h255 was evaluated by monitoring tumor growth kinetics and intra-tumoral virus titers. Microenvironmental changes mediated by the intra-tumoral MMP-9 over-expression were investigated by microscopic quantification of the collagen IV content, the blood vessel density (BVD) and the analysis of lymph node metastasis formation.
GLV-1h255-treatment of PC-3 tumors led to a significant over-expression of intra-tumoral MMP-9, accompanied by a marked decrease in collagen IV content in infected tumor areas, when compared to GLV-1h68-infected tumor areas. This led to considerably elevated virus titers in GLV-1h255 infected tumors, and to enhanced tumor regression. The analysis of the BVD, as well as the lumbar and renal lymph node volumes, revealed lower BVD and significantly smaller lymph nodes in both GLV-1h68- and GLV-1h255- injected mice compared to those injected with PBS, indicating that MMP-9 over-expression does not alter the metastasis-reducing effect of oncolytic VACV.
Taken together, these results indicate that a GLV-1h255-mediated intra-tumoral over-expression of MMP-9 leads to a degradation of collagen IV, facilitating intra-tumoral viral dissemination, and resulting in accelerated tumor regression. We propose that approaches which enhance the oncolytic effect by increasing the intra-tumoral viral load, may be an effective way to improve therapeutic outcome.
Recent data suggest that cancer stem cells (CSCs) play an important role in cancer, as these cells possess enhanced tumor-forming capabilities and are responsible for relapses after apparently curative therapies have been undertaken. Hence, novel cancer therapies will be needed to test for both tumor regression and CSC targeting. The use of oncolytic vaccinia virus (VACV) represents an attractive anti-tumor approach and is currently under evaluation in clinical trials. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate whether VACV does kill CSCs that are resistant to irradiation and chemotherapy.
Cancer stem-like cells were identified and separated from the human breast cancer cell line GI-101A by virtue of increased aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) activity as assessed by the ALDEFLUOR assay and cancer stem cell-like features such as chemo-resistance, irradiation-resistance and tumor-initiating were confirmed in cell culture and in animal models. VACV treatments were applied to both ALDEFLUOR-positive cells in cell culture and in xenograft tumors derived from these cells. Moreover, we identified and isolated CD44+CD24+ESA+ cells from GI-101A upon an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). These cells were similarly characterized both in cell culture and in animal models.
We demonstrated for the first time that the oncolytic VACV GLV-1h68 strain replicated more efficiently in cells with higher ALDH1 activity that possessed stem cell-like features than in cells with lower ALDH1 activity. GLV-1h68 selectively colonized and eventually eradicated xenograft tumors originating from cells with higher ALDH1 activity. Furthermore, GLV-1h68 also showed preferential replication in CD44+CD24+ESA+ cells derived from GI-101A upon an EMT induction as well as in xenograft tumors originating from these cells that were more tumorigenic than CD44+CD24-ESA+ cells.
Taken together, our findings indicate that GLV-1h68 efficiently replicates and kills cancer stem-like cells. Thus, GLV-1h68 may become a promising agent for eradicating both primary and metastatic tumors, especially tumors harboring cancer stem-like cells that are resistant to chemo and/or radiotherapy and may be responsible for recurrence of tumors.
Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1; Cancer stem cells; Oncolytic virotherapy; Vaccinia virus; EMT
Combination of oncolytic vaccinia virus therapy with conventional chemotherapy has shown promise for tumor therapy. However, side effects of chemotherapy including thrombocytopenia, still remain problematic.
Here, we describe a novel approach to optimize combination therapy of oncolytic virus and chemotherapy utilizing virus-encoding hyper-IL-6, GLV-1h90, to reduce chemotherapy-associated side effects.
We showed that the hyper-IL-6 cytokine was successfully produced by GLV-1h90 and was functional both in cell culture as well as in tumor-bearing animals, in which the cytokine-producing vaccinia virus strain was well tolerated. When combined with the chemotherapeutic mitomycin C, the anti-tumor effect of the oncolytic virotherapy was significantly enhanced. Moreover, hyper-IL-6 expression greatly reduced the time interval during which the mice suffered from chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia.
Therefore, future clinical application would benefit from careful investigation of additional cytokine treatment to reduce chemotherapy-induced side effects.
vaccinia virus; cancer; cytokine; hyper-IL-6; oncolysis; chemotherapy
Oncolytic viral therapy represents an alternative therapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer. We previously described GLV-1h68, a modified Vaccinia Virus with exclusive tropism for tumor cells, and we observed a cell line-specific relationship between the ability of GLV-1h68 to replicate in vitro and its ability to colonize and eliminate tumor in vivo.
In the current study we surveyed the in vitro permissivity to GLV-1h68 replication of the NCI-60 panel of cell lines. Selected cell lines were also tested for permissivity to another Vaccinia Virus and a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) strain. In order to identify correlates of permissity to viral infection, we measured transcriptional profiles of the cell lines prior infection.
We observed highly heterogeneous permissivity to VACV infection amongst the cell lines. The heterogeneity of permissivity was independent of tissue with the exception of B cell derivation. Cell lines were also tested for permissivity to another Vaccinia Virus and a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) strain and a significant correlation was found suggesting a common permissive phenotype. While no clear transcriptional pattern could be identified as predictor of permissivity to infection, some associations were observed suggesting multifactorial basis permissivity to viral infection.
Our findings have implications for the design of oncolytic therapies for cancer and offer insights into the nature of permissivity of tumor cells to viral infection.
We have shown that insertion of the three vaccinia virus (VACV) promoter-driven foreign gene expression cassettes encoding Renilla luciferase-Aequorea GFP fusion protein, β-galactosidase, and β-glucuronidase into the F14.5L, J2R, and A56R loci of the VACV LIVP genome, respectively, results in a highly attenuated mutant strain GLV-1h68. This strain shows tumor-specific replication and is capable of eradicating tumors with little or no virulence in mice. This study aimed to distinguish the contribution of added VACV promoter-driven transcriptional units as inserts from the effects of insertional inactivation of three viral genes, and to determine the correlation between replication efficiency of oncolytic vaccinia virus in cell cultures and the virulence and antitumor efficacy in mice
A series of recombinant VACV strains was generated by replacing one, two, or all three of the expression cassettes in GLV-1h68 with short non-coding DNA sequences. The replication efficiency and tumor cell killing capacity of these newly generated VACV strains were compared with those of the parent virus GLV-1h68 in cell cultures. The virus replication efficiency in tumors and antitumor efficacy as well as the virulence were evaluated in nu/nu (nude) mice bearing human breast tumor xenografts.
we found that virus replication efficiency increased with removal of each of the expression cassettes. The increase in virus replication efficiency was proportionate to the strength of removed VACV promoters linked to foreign genes. The replication efficiency of the new VACV strains paralleled their cytotoxicity in cell cultures. The increased replication efficiency in tumor xenografts resulted in enhanced antitumor efficacy in nude mice. Similarly, the enhanced virus replication efficiency was indicative of increased virulence in nude mice.
These data demonstrated that insertion of VACV promoter-driven transcriptional units into the viral genome for the purpose of insertional mutagenesis did modulate the efficiency of virus replication together with antitumor efficacy as well as virulence. Replication efficiency of oncolytic VACV in cell cultures can predict the virulence and therapeutic efficacy in nude mice. These findings may be essential for rational design of safe and potent VACV strains for vaccination and virotherapy of cancer in humans and animals.
GLV-1h68; modulation of virus replication; GI-101A tumor xenografts; oncolytic virotherapy
Oncolytic viruses show promise for treating cancer. However, to assess therapeutic efficacy and potential toxicity, a noninvasive imaging modality is needed. This study aimed to determine if insertion of the human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS) cDNA as a marker for non-invasive imaging of virotherapy alters the replication and oncolytic capability of a novel vaccinia virus, GLV-1h153.
GLV-1h153 was modified from parental vaccinia virus GLV-1h68 to carry hNIS via homologous recombination. GLV-1h153 was tested against human pancreatic cancer cell line PANC-1 for replication via viral plaque assays and flow cytometry. Expression and transportation of hNIS in infected cells was evaluated using Westernblot and immunofluorescence. Intracellular uptake of radioiodide was assessed using radiouptake assays. Viral cytotoxicity and tumor regression of treated PANC-1tumor xenografts in nude mice was also determined. Finally, tumor radiouptake in xenografts was assessed via positron emission tomography (PET) utilizing carrier-free 124I radiotracer.
GLV-1h153 infected, replicated within, and killed PANC-1 cells as efficiently as GLV-1h68. GLV-1h153 provided dose-dependent levels of hNIS expression in infected cells. Immunofluorescence detected transport of the protein to the cell membrane prior to cell lysis, enhancing hNIS-specific radiouptake (P < 0.001). In vivo, GLV-1h153 was as safe and effective as GLV-1h68 in regressing pancreatic cancer xenografts (P < 0.001). Finally, intratumoral injection of GLV-1h153 facilitated imaging of virus replication in tumors via 124I-PET.
Insertion of the hNIS gene does not hinder replication or oncolytic capability of GLV-1h153, rendering this novel virus a promising new candidate for the noninvasive imaging and tracking of oncolytic viral therapy.
Gastric cancers have poor overall survival despite recent advancements in early detection methods, endoscopic resection techniques, and chemotherapy treatments. Vaccinia viral therapy has had promising therapeutic potential for various cancers and has a great safety profile. We investigated the therapeutic efficacy of a novel genetically-engineered vaccinia virus carrying the human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS) gene, GLV-1 h153, on gastric cancers and its potential utility for imaging with 99mTc pertechnetate scintigraphy and 124I positron emission tomography (PET).
GLV-1 h153 was tested against five human gastric cancer cell lines using cytotoxicity and standard viral plaque assays. In vivo, subcutaneous flank tumors were generated in nude mice with human gastric cancer cells, MKN-74. Tumors were subsequently injected with either GLV-1 h153 or PBS and followed for tumor growth. 99mTc pertechnetate scintigraphy and 124I microPET imaging were performed.
GFP expression, a surrogate for viral infectivity, confirmed viral infection by 24 hours. At a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 1, GLV-1 h153 achieved > 90% cytotoxicity in MNK-74, OCUM-2MD3, and AGS over 9 days, and >70% cytotoxicity in MNK- 45 and TMK-1. In vivo, GLV-1 h153 was effective in treating xenografts (p < 0.001) after 2 weeks of treatment. GLV-1 h153-infected tumors were readily imaged by 99mTc pertechnetate scintigraphy and 124I microPET imaging 2 days after treatment.
GLV-1 h153 is an effective oncolytic virus expressing the hNIS protein that can efficiently regress gastric tumors and allow deep-tissue imaging. These data encourages its continued investigation in clinical settings.
Oncolytic viral therapy; GLV-1 h153; Gastric cancer; Human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS)
Metastatic tumor cells in body fluids are important targets for treatment, and critical surrogate markers for evaluating cancer prognosis and therapeutic response. Here we report, for the first time, that live metastatic tumor cells in blood samples from mice bearing human tumor xenografts and in blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples from patients with cancer were successfully detected using a tumor cell-specific recombinant vaccinia virus (VACV). In contrast to the FDA-approved CellSearch system, VACV detects circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in a cancer biomarker-independent manner, thus, free of any bias related to the use of antibodies, and can be potentially a universal system for detection of live CTCs of any tumor type, not limited to CTCs of epithelial origin. Furthermore, we demonstrate for the first time that VACV was effective in preventing and reducing circulating tumor cells in mice bearing human tumor xenografts. Importantly, a single intra-peritoneal delivery of VACV resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of tumor cells in the ascitic fluid from a patient with gastric cancer. Taken together, these results suggest VACV to be a useful tool for quantitative detection of live tumor cells in liquid biopsies as well as a potentially effective treatment for reducing or eliminating live tumor cells in body fluids of patients with metastatic disease.
Surgery is currently the definitive treatment for early-stage breast cancer. However, the rate of positive surgical margins remains unacceptably high. The human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS) is a naturally occurring protein in human thyroid tissue, which enables cells to concentrate radionuclides. The hNIS has been exploited to image and treat thyroid cancer. We therefore investigated the potential of a novel oncolytic vaccinia virus GLV1h-153 engineered to express the hNIS gene for identifying positive surgical margins after tumor resection via positron emission tomography (PET). Furthermore, we studied its role as an adjuvant therapeutic agent in achieving local control of remaining tumors in an orthotopic breast cancer model.
GLV-1h153, a replication-competent vaccinia virus, was tested against breast cancer cell lines at various multiplicities of infection (MOIs). Cytotoxicity and viral replication were determined. Mammary fat pad tumors were generated in athymic nude mice. To determine the utility of GLV-1h153 in identifying positive surgical margins, 90% of the mammary fat pad tumors were surgically resected and subsequently injected with GLV-1h153 or phosphate buffered saline (PBS) in the surgical wound. Serial Focus 120 microPET images were obtained six hours post-tail vein injection of approximately 600 μCi of 124I-iodide.
Viral infectivity, measured by green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression, was time- and concentration-dependent. All cell lines showed less than 10% of cell survival five days after treatment at an MOI of 5. GLV-1h153 replicated efficiently in all cell lines with a peak titer of 27 million viral plaque forming units (PFU) ( <10,000-fold increase from the initial viral dose ) by Day 4. Administration of GLV-1h153 into the surgical wound allowed positive surgical margins to be identified via PET scanning. In vivo, mean volume of infected surgically resected residual tumors four weeks after treatment was 14 mm3 versus 168 mm3 in untreated controls (P < 0.05).
This is the first study to our knowledge to demonstrate a novel vaccinia virus carrying hNIS as an imaging tool in identifying positive surgical margins of breast cancers in an orthotopic murine model. Moreover, our results suggest that GLV-1h153 is a promising therapeutic agent in achieving local control for positive surgical margins in resected breast tumors.
Recently, we showed that the oncolytic vaccinia virus GLV-1h68 has a significant therapeutic potential in treating lymph node metastases of human PC-3 prostate carcinoma in tumor xenografts. In this study, underlying mechanisms of the virus-mediated metastases reduction were analyzed. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that virus-treatment resulted in a drastically decrease of blood and lymph vessels, representing essential routes for PC-3 cell migration, in both tumors and metastases. Thus, GLV-1h68 drastically reduced essential routes for the metastatic spread of PC-3 cells. Furthermore, analysis of viral distribution in GLV-1h68-injected tumor-bearing mice by plaque assays, revealed significantly higher virus titers in metastases compared to solid tumors. To elucidate conditions potentially mediating the preferential viral colonization and eradication of metastases, microenvironmental components of uninfected tumors and metastases were compared by microscopic studies. These analyses revealed that PC-3 lymph node metastases showed increased vascular permeability, higher proliferation status of tumor cells as determined by BrdU- and Ki-67 assays and lesser necrosis of PC-3 cells than solid tumors. Moreover, an increased number of immune cells (MHCII+/CD68+ macrophages, MHCII+/CD19+ B lymphocytes) combined with an up-regulated expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines was observed in metastases in comparison to primary PC-3 tumors. We propose that these microenvironmental components mediated the metastatic tropism of GLV-1h68. Therefore, vaccinia virus-based oncolytic virotherapy might offer a novel treatment of metastatic prostate carcinomas in humans.
Oncolytic viruses show promise for treating cancer. However, to assess therapy and potential toxicity, a noninvasive imaging modality is needed. This study aims to determine the in vivo biodistribution, and imaging and timing characteristics of a vaccinia virus, GLV-1h153, encoding the human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS.
GLV-1h153 was modified from GLV-1h68 to encode the hNIS gene. Timing of cellular uptake of radioiodide 131I in human pancreatic carcinoma cells PANC-1 was assessed using radiouptake assays. Viral biodistribution was determined in nude mice bearing PANC-1 xenografts, and infection in tumors confirmed histologically and optically via Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and bioluminescence. Timing characteristics of enhanced radiouptake in xenografts were assessed via 124I-positron emission tomography (PET). Detection of systemic administration of virus was investigated with both 124I-PET and 99m-technecium gamma-scintigraphy.
GLV-1h153 successfully facilitated time-dependent intracellular uptake of 131I in PANC-1 cells with a maximum uptake at 24 hours postinfection (P<0.05). In vivo, biodistribution profiles revealed persistence of virus in tumors 5 weeks postinjection at 109 plaque-forming unit (PFU)/gm tissue, with the virus mainly cleared from all other major organs. Tumor infection by GLV-1h153 was confirmed via optical imaging and histology. GLV-1h153 facilitated imaging virus replication in tumors via PET even at 8 hours post radiotracer injection, with a mean %ID/gm of 3.82±0.46 (P<0.05) 2 days after intratumoral administration of virus, confirmed via tissue radiouptake assays. One week post systemic administration, GLV-1h153-infected tumors were detected via 124I-PET and 99m-technecium-scintigraphy.
GLV-1h153 is a promising oncolytic agent against pancreatic cancer with a promising biosafety profile. GLV-1h153 facilitated time-dependent hNIS-specific radiouptake in pancreatic cancer cells, facilitating detection by PET with both intratumoral and systemic administration. Therefore, GLV-1h153 is a promising candidate for the noninvasive imaging of virotherapy and warrants further study into longterm monitoring of virotherapy and potential radiocombination therapies with this treatment and imaging modality.
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.
Virotherapy using oncolytic vaccinia virus strains is one of the most promising new strategies for cancer therapy. In this study, we analyzed for the first time the therapeutic efficacy of the oncolytic vaccinia virus GLV-1h68 in two human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines HuH7 and PLC/PRF/5 (PLC) in cell culture and in tumor xenograft models. By viral proliferation assays and cell survival tests, we demonstrated that GLV-1h68 efficiently colonized, replicated in, and did lyse these cancer cells in culture. Experiments with HuH7 and PLC xenografts have revealed that a single intravenous injection (i.v.) of mice with GLV-1h68 resulted in a significant reduction of primary tumor sizes compared to uninjected controls. In addition, replication of GLV-1h68 in tumor cells led to strong inflammatory and oncolytic effects resulting in intense infiltration of MHC class II-positive cells like neutrophils, macrophages, B cells and dendritic cells and in up-regulation of 13 pro-inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, GLV-1h68 infection of PLC tumors inhibited the formation of hemorrhagic structures which occur naturally in PLC tumors. Interestingly, we found a strongly reduced vascular density in infected PLC tumors only, but not in the non-hemorrhagic HuH7 tumor model. These data demonstrate that the GLV-1h68 vaccinia virus may have an enormous potential for treatment of human hepatocellular carcinoma in man.