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Potent efficacy signals from systemically administered oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV1716) in hepatocellular carcinoma xenograft models

Authors Braidwood L, Learmonth K, Graham A, Conner J

Received 12 July 2014

Accepted for publication 7 August 2014

Published 16 October 2014 Volume 2014:1 Pages 149—161


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Ahmed Kaseb

Lynne Braidwood, Kirsty Learmonth, Alex Graham, Joe Conner

Virttu Biologics Ltd, Department of Neurology, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, UK

Abstract: Oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV1716), lacking the neurovirulence factor ICP34.5, has highly selective replication competence for cancer cells and has been used in clinical studies of glioma, melanoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, pediatric non-central nervous system solid tumors, and malignant pleural mesothelioma. To date, 88 patients have received HSV1716 and the virus is well tolerated, with selective replication in tumor cells and no spread to surrounding normal tissue. We assessed the potential value of HSV1716 in preclinical studies with two human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines, HuH7 and HepG2-luc. HSV1716 displayed excellent replication kinetics in vitro in HepG2-luc cells, a cell line engineered to express luciferase, and virus-mediated cell killing correlated with loss of light emissions from the cells. In vivo, the HepG2-luc cells readily formed light-emitting xenografts that were easily visualized by an in vivo imaging system and efficiently eliminated by HSV1716 oncolysis after intratumoral injection. HSV1716 also demonstrated strong efficacy signals in subcutaneous HuH7 xenografts in nude mice after intravenous administration of virus. In the HuH7 model, the intravenously injected virus replicated prolifically immediately after efficient tumor localization, resulting in highly significant reductions in tumor growth and enhanced survival. Our preclinical results demonstrate excellent tumor uptake of HSV1716, with prolific replication and potent oncolysis. These observations warrant a clinical study of HSV1716 in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Keywords: oncolytic herpes simplex virus, HSV1716, hepatocellular carcinoma, xenografts, efficacy

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