Viruses that are designed to kill cancer cells - oncolytic viruses - have shown promise in clinical trials for the treatment of brain cancer and other solid tumors. This cell and animal study suggests that combining low doses of the drug bortezomib with a particular oncolytic virus might significantly improve the ability of the virus to kill cancer cells during oncolytic virus therapy.
The research is published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
"These findings pave the way for a treatment strategy for cancer that combines low doses of bortezomib with an oncolytic virus to maximize the efficacy of the virus with little added toxicity," says principal investigator Balveen Kaur, PhD, professor and vice chair of research, Department of Neurological Surgery and Radiation Oncology, and a member of the OSUCCC - James Translational Therapeutics Program.
"Because bortezomib is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, a clinical trial could be done relatively quickly to test the effectiveness of the drug-virus combination," Kaur says.
Bortezomib inhibits the activity of proteasomes, structures in cells that break down and recycle proteins. Kaur notes that blocking these "cellular recycling plants" activates a cellular stress response and increases the expression of heat shock proteins. This reaction, which can lead to bortezomib resistance, makes the cells more sensitive to oncolytic virus therapy with little additional toxicity.
For this study, Kaur and her colleagues used a herpes simplex virus-type 1 oncolytic virus. Key technical findings include:
- One of the overexpressed heat-shock proteins, HSP90, facilitates oncolytic virus replication, enabling the virus to kill more tumor cells;
- In a glioma model, the combination treatment suppressed tumor growth by 92 percent relative to controls and improved survival (six of eight tumors had completely regressed by day 23 after treatment);
- Similar outcomes occurred in a head and neck cancer model.
"To our knowledge, this study is the first to show synergy between an oncolytic HSV-1-derived cancer killing virus and bortezomib," Kaur says. "It offers a novel therapeutic strategy that can be rapidly translated in patients with various solid tumors."
Funding from the National Institutes of Health (grants NS064607, CA150153, CA163205, NS045758, CA155521) and the Pelotonia Fellowship Program supported this research.
Other researchers involved in this study were Ji Young Yoo, Brian S. Hurwitz, Chelsea Bolyard, Jun-Ge Yu, Jianying Zhang, Karuppaiyah Selvendiran, Kellie S. Rath, Shun He, Deborah S. Parris, Michael A. Caligiuri, Jianhua Yu and Matthew Old, The Ohio State University; David Eaves and Zachary Bailey, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Timothy P. Cripe, Nationwide Children's Hospital.
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only four centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State's cancer program as "exceptional," the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. As the cancer program's 228-bed adult patient-care component, The James is a "Top Hospital" as named by the Leapfrog Group and one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S.News & World Report.
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