Oncolytic Adenovirus Therapy of Neuroendocrine Tumors

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), originally described as carcinoids, represent a rare and heterogeneous group of neoplasms associated with intensive secretion of hormones, bioactive peptides and amines. Most of the patients are diagnosed at a late stage of disease, often with liver metastases. Surgery remains the main treatment to control metastatic disease, but is not curative. Oncolytic virotherapy represents a promising approach to treat cancer and different strategies have been exploited to restrict viral replication to tumor cells. We developed an oncolytic adenovirus based on serotype 5, Ad5[CgA-E1A], where the chromogranin A (CgA) promoter controls expression of the E1A gene and thereby virus replication. We found that Ad5[CgA-E1A], selectively replicates in NET cells and it is able to suppress fast-growing human BON carcinoid tumors in nude mice. The activity of Ad5[CgA-E1A] was not completely blocked in liver cells. We further repressed virus replication in hepatocytes by targeting E1A with miR122, an miRNA specifically expressed in the liver. miRNAs bind to mRNA and induce its cleavage or translational blockage. By insertion of tandem repeats of miR122 target sequences in 3’UTR of E1A gene, we observed reduced E1A protein expression and replication arrest in miR122 expressing liver cells. The oncolytic potency of the miR122-targeted virus was not affected in NET cells. Since some NET and neuroblastoma cells express high levels of somatostatin receptors (SSTRs), we introduced in the virus fiber knob cyclic peptides, which contain four amino acids (FWKT) and mimic the binding site of somatostatin for SSTRs. The FWKT-modified Ad5 transduces midgut carcinoid cells from liver metastases about 3-4 times better than non-modified Ad5. Moreover, FWKT-modified Ad5 overcomes neutralization in an ex vivo human blood loop model to a greater extent than Ad5, indicating that the fiber knob modification may prolong the systemic circulation time. NETs represent a huge therapeutic challenge and novel diagnostic markers are needed for early detection and effective treatment of NETs. We have profiled primary tumors and liver metastases of ileocaceal NETs, using Affymetrix microarrays and advanced bioinformatics. We have identified six novel marker genes and show high similarity between primary lesions and liver metastases transcriptome by hierarchical clustering analysis.

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