Cancer gene therapy

MicroRNA-mediated multi-tissue detargeting of oncolytic measles virus.

PMID 25145311


Precise oncotropism is required for successful systemic administration of next-generation oncolytic measles viruses (MVs). We have previously established a system for efficient post-entry targeting by insertion of synthetic microRNA target sites (miRTS) into the MV genome, thereby repressing replication in the presence of cognate microRNAs. Thus, differential expression of microRNAs, as frequently observed in normal compared with malignant tissues, can be exploited to increase vector specificity and safety. Here we report the combination of miRTS for different microRNAs in a single vector to detarget pivotal organs at risk during systemic administration (liver, brain, gastrointestinal tract). Accordingly, miRTS for miR-122, miR-7 and miR-148a that are enriched in these tissues were inserted to create multi-tissue-detargeted MV (MV-EGFP(mtd)). Replication of MV-EGFP(mtd) is repressed in cell lines as well as in non-transformed primary human hepatocytes and liver slices expressing cognate microRNAs. Oncolytic potency of MV-EGFP(mtd) is retained in a model of pancreatic cancer in vitro and in vivo. This work is a proof-of-concept that favorable expression profiles of multiple microRNAs can be exploited concomitantly to reshape the tropism of MV without compromising oncolytic efficacy. This strategy can be adapted to different vectors and cancer entities for safe and efficient high-dose systemic administration in clinical trials.