The need for new and more effective long-term treatments for Multiple Myeloma (MM) has led to the utilization and engineering of replication competent (oncolytic) viruses as potential therapies. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a potent oncolytic agent with several features that make it a favorable choice as a potential myeloma therapy. Specifically, (i) VSV replicates rapidly and can be grown to high titers (for effective clinical use) (ii) VSV undergoes transcription and replication exclusively in the cytoplasm avoiding host genome integration (iii) there is low/absent pre-existing immunity against VSV among the general population, (iv) naturally occurring human VSV infections are generally asymptomatic or result in minimal flu-like symptoms, (v) VSV is not easily transmitted between individuals (natural transmission is by hematophagous insects). Previously we showed weak oncolytic efficacy with an attenuated strain of VSV coding for the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) gene, VSV-D51-NIS, in the immune competent 5TGM1 syngeneic MM mouse model (C57Bl/KalwRijHsd) (Goel at. al. Blood. 2007 Oct 1;110(7):2342-50). Since VSV replication is strongly inhibited by IFN-induced innate immune responses in normal cells, but not in myeloma cells and IFN has known anti-myeloma activity, we hypothesized that the IFN-coding VSVs would be safer and more potent than previously tested VSV recombinants. We therefore constructed and tested the efficacy of VSVs coding for b-Interferon (VSV-IFN) or b-IFN and NIS (VSV-IFN-NIS). Interestingly, all of the newly constructed viruses, including VSV-IFN-NIS, showed greatly superior replication kinetics compared to the previously reported VSV-D51-NIS virus. Furthermore, compared to VSV-D51-NIS, VSV-IFN-NIS vectors induced higher NIS expression in vitro. In vivo therapy studies showed that a single intravenous dose of each of the IFN-coding VSVs promoted tumor regression and significantly prolonged survival of immunocompetent mice bearing subcutaneous or orthotopic 5TGM1 myeloma tumors. Tc-99m imaging studies conducted in mice treated with VSV-IFN-NIS, showed tumor specific virus mediated NIS expression and radio-isotope uptake that increased concurrently with intratumoral viral spread. Most importantly, there was no evidence of neurotoxicity following treatment with the IFN-coding VSVs. These studies indicate that VSV-IFN-NIS has potential as a novel therapeutic agent for multiple myeloma that can be combined with radio-isotopes for both non-invasive imaging of viral biodistribution and radiovirotherapy. A phase I clinical study is currently planned.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.