Development of targeted oncolytic virotherapeutics through translational research

Jennerex Biotherapeutics, One Market Street, Spear Tower, Suite 2260, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.
Expert opinion on biological therapy (Impact Factor: 3.74). 10/2008; 8(9):1381-91. DOI: 10.1517/14712598.8.9.1381
Source: PubMed


Oncolytic virotherapeutics is a promising platform for cancer treatment but the product class has yet been successful. The key to success is integration of bidirectional translational research to rapidly address issues encountered in the laboratory and the clinics.
We highlight the hurdles identified for the targeted oncolytic virotherapy approach, specifically those identified in clinical trials with wild-type viruses and first-generation targeted agents. We also analyze the translational research and development that has been applied to overcome these hurdles, including virus engineering and design improvements for next-generation virotherapeutics.
The iterative loop between the clinic and the lab can function as a major driving force to optimize products from this platform.

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    • "Oncolytic viruses represent an emerging therapeutic platform for the treatment of human cancer with unique attributes compared with conventional therapeutic modalities.1,2,3,4 One especially favorable feature of these therapeutic agents is their proposed selectivity for replication in cancer cells, while sparing normal cells and tissues, thus limiting off-target cell killing and toxicities. "
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    ABSTRACT: Oncolytic viruses are generally designed to be cancer selective on the basis of a single genetic mutation. JX-594 is a thymidine kinase (TK) gene-inactivated oncolytic vaccinia virus expressing granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and lac-Z transgenes that is designed to destroy cancer cells through replication-dependent cell lysis and stimulation of antitumoral immunity. JX-594 has demonstrated a favorable safety profile and reproducible tumor necrosis in a variety of solid cancer types in clinical trials. However, the mechanism(s) responsible for its cancer-selectivity have not yet been well described. We analyzed the replication of JX-594 in three model systems: primary normal and cancer cells, surgical explants, and murine tumor models. JX-594 replication, transgene expression, and cytopathic effects were highly cancer-selective, and broad spectrum activity was demonstrated. JX-594 cancer-selectivity was multi-mechanistic; replication was activated by epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/Ras pathway signaling, cellular TK levels, and cancer cell resistance to type-I interferons (IFNs). These findings confirm a large therapeutic index for JX-594 that is driven by common genetic abnormalities in human solid tumors. This appears to be the first description of multiple selectivity mechanisms, both inherent and engineered, for an oncolytic virus. These findings have implications for oncolytic viruses in general, and suggest that their cancer targeting is a complex and multifactorial process.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Molecular Therapy
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    ABSTRACT: Advanced-stage cancers are extremely difficult to treat and rarely result in a cure. The application of oncolytic viruses is a potential strategy for controlling advanced-stage cancer because intratumoral (i.t.) injection of an oncolytic virus, such as vaccinia virus, results in tumor cell lysis and subsequent release of tumor antigens into the microenvironment. Furthermore, the viruses can serve as a vehicle for delivering genes of interest to cancer cells. In the current study, we hypothesize that in tumor-bearing mice primed with DNA encoding an immunogenic foreign antigen, ovalbumin (OVA) followed by a boost with i.t. administration of vaccinia virus encoding the same foreign antigen, OVA, can generate enhanced antitumor effects through the combination of viral oncolysis and tumor-specific immunity. We observed that tumor-bearing mice primed with OVA DNA and boosted with vaccinia encoding OVA (Vac-OVA) generated significant therapeutic antitumor effects as well as induced significant levels of OVA-specific CD8+ T cells in two different tumor models. Furthermore, treatment with Vac-OVA not only kills the tumor and stromal cells directly but also renders the tumor cells and surrounding stromal cells susceptible to OVA-specific CD8+ T-cell killing, resulting in enhanced antitumor therapeutic effects. Thus, the current study may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for the control of advanced-stage cancers.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2009 · Clinical Cancer Research
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    ABSTRACT: Oncolytic viruses (OVs) are promising anticancer agents but like other cancer monotherapies, the genetic heterogeneity of human malignancies can lead to treatment resistance. We used a virus/cell-based assay to screen diverse chemical libraries to identify small molecules that could act in synergy with OVs to destroy tumor cells that resist viral infection. Several molecules were identified that aid in viral oncolysis, enhancing virus replication and spread as much as 1,000-fold in tumor cells. One of these molecules we named virus-sensitizers 1 (VSe1), was found to target tumor innate immune response and could enhance OV efficacy in animal tumor models and within primary human tumor explants while remaining benign to normal tissues. We believe this is the first example of a virus/cell-based "pharmacoviral" screen aimed to identify small molecules that modulate cellular response to virus infection and enhance oncolytic virotherapy.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2010 · Molecular Therapy
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