Viral genes as oncolytic agents for cancer therapy
Clinical studies have demonstrated that conditionally replicating adenovirus is safe. We constructed an oncolytic adenovirus, Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin, using a cancer-specific promoter (human telomerase reverse transcriptase promoter, hTERTp) and a cancer cell-selective apoptosis-inducing gene (Apoptin). Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin was proven effective both in vitro and in vivo in our previous study. In this study, the preclinical safety profiles of Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin in animal models were investigated. At doses of 5.0×10(8), 2.5×10(9), and 1.25×10(10) viral particles (VP)/kg, Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin had no adverse effects on mouse behavior, muscle cooperation, sedative effect, digestive system, and nervous systems, or on beagle cardiovascular and respiratory systems at 5.0×10(8), 2.5×10(9), and 1.25×10(10) VP/kg doses. In acute toxicity tests in mice, the maximum tolerated dose>5×10(10) VP/kg. There was no inflammation or ulceration at the injection sites within two weeks. In repeat-dose toxicological studies, the no observable adverse effect levels of Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin in rats (1.25×10(10) VP/kg) and beagles (2.5×10(9) VP/kg) were 62.5- and 12.5-fold of the proposed clinical dose, respectively. The anti-virus antibody was produced in animal sera. Bone marrow examination revealed no histopathological changes. Guinea pigs sensitized by three repeated intraperitoneal injections of 1.35×10(10) VP/mL Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin each and challenged by one intravenous injection of 1.67×10(8) VP/kg Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin did not exhibit any sign of systemic anaphylaxis. Our data from different animal models suggest that Ad-hTERT-E1a-Apoptin is a safe anti-tumor therapeutic agent.