Journal of pharmaceutical sciences

Characterization of an oncolytic herpes simplex virus drug candidate.

PMID 25362835


The structural integrity and conformational stability of a genetically modified live, oncolytic herpes simplex virus (o-HSV) were investigated across a wide pH (5.5-8.0) and temperature (10°C-87.5°C) range. A combination of circular dichroism, intrinsic and extrinsic fluorescence, and static light scattering results was visualized using an empirical phase diagram approach to provide a global assessment of physical stability. Distinct phases were identified including the native state of the virus, an intermediate phase that could represent gradual swelling and/or shedding of the viral envelope, and a highly disrupted, aggregated phase. The nature of these altered forms of the virus was further evaluated by transmission electron microscopy and viral plaque assays. The effect of freeze-thaw (F/T) stress on o-HSV was also examined. After one F/T cycle, a loss of infectious virus titers was observed. In addition, the monomeric virus particle concentration decreased during F/T stress, whereas there was a concurrent increase in larger particles (2-10 μm). The comprehensive biophysical characterization of viral stability conducted in this study identified major degradation events leading to loss of infectivity of o-HSV and represents an important step toward stabilization of the virus against thermal and F/T stresses.