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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Prophylactic alpha interferon treatment increases the therapeutic index of oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus virotherapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma in immune-competent rats.

Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a negative-strand RNA virus with intrinsic oncolytic specificity due to substantially attenuated antiviral responses in many tumors. We have recently reported that recombinant VSV vector can be used as an effective oncolytic agent to safely treat multifocal hepatocellular carcinoma ( HCC) in the livers of immune-competent rats via hepatic artery infusion. When administered at doses above the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), however, the animals suffered from neurotoxicity and/or acute lethal hepatotoxicity. Since VSV is extremely sensitive to the antiviral actions of alpha/beta interferon (IFN-alpha/beta) in normal cells, we tested if prophylactic treatment with rat IFN-alpha would enhance VSV safety without compromising treatment efficacy in tumor-bearing rats. We found that VSV retained its replication potential in human and rat HCC cells after preincubation with relatively high doses of rat and human IFN-alpha in vitro, and its MTD in tumor-bearing rats treated systemically with rat IFN-alpha at 66 IU/g body weight (BW), equivalent to a human IFN-alpha dose that is currently prescribed for patients with viral hepatitis, was elevated by more than 1/2 log unit. Furthermore, we demonstrate that intratumoral replication of VSV was not attenuated by administration of 66 IU/g BW rat IFN-alpha, as tumor response and survival advantage in VSV-treated rats in the presence or absence of rat IFN-alpha were equivalent. The results suggest that prophylactic rat IFN-alpha treatment elevates the therapeutic index of hepatic arterial VSV therapy for multifocal HCC in rats. Since human IFN-alpha is currently in clinical use, its prophylactic application should be considered in future clinical translational protocols for VSV-mediated oncolytic virotherapy as a novel therapeutic modality in patients with advanced HCC, as well as other types of cancer.[1]


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