Virus-based therapy that targets tumors for the treatment of cancer.
- Provides a virus platform for anti-tumor therapeutic genes.
- Selectively targets hypoxic tumor cells instead of systemic chemotherapy.
Virotherapy is an emerging niche in the field of cancer therapeutics. Oncolytic viruses are able to infect and damage cancer tissue without damaging normal tissue by targeting tumors with specific genetic alterations or gene expression. These anti-tumor agents are highly effective due to their intrinsic ability to kill the infected host while delivering a therapeutic transgene to the tumor. Healthy cells lacking the specific gene expression, however, are able to survive. Existing treatments for cancer do not target the hypoxic environment of tumors to improve selectivity and efficacy.
Hypoxia develops in most tumor cells regardless of their location or genetic alterations. Currently, hypoxia makes tumor cells resistant to traditional methods of cancer treatment. Emory researchers have developed oncolytic viruses that target the hypoxic cells and tissues found in tumors. They have engineered a hypoxia-dependent replicative adenovirus, which selectively expresses a therapeutic gene in hypoxic tumor cells. Therapeutic genes capable of being expressed in this virus include interleukin-4 or an anti-angiogenic factor. Interleukin-4 has exhibited potent anti-tumor ability and has shown a strong potential as a tumor therapy agent.
Viruses are constructed, demonstrate hypoxia-induced gene expression and lytic ability in human tumor cells, and potently induce regression of transplanted tumors in immunocompromised mice.