DNA demethylating agents synergize with oncolytic HSV1 against malignant gliomas

Kazuo Okemoto, Kazue Kasai, Benjamin Wagner, Amy Haseley, Hans Meisen, Chelsea Bolyard, Xiaokui Mo, Allison Wehr, Amy Lehman, Soledad Fernandez, Balveen Kaur, E Antonio Chiocca
Clinical Cancer Research 2013 November 1, 19 (21): 5952-9

PURPOSE: Oncolytic viruses (OV) based on herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) are being used in clinical trials for a variety of cancers. The OV, rQNestin34.5, uses a nestin promoter/enhancer to selectively drive robust viral replication in malignant glioma cells. We have discovered that this promoter becomes extensively methylated in infected glioma cells, reducing OV efficacy.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We used demethylating drugs [5-azacytidine (5-Aza)], decitabine, or valproic acid (VPA) in both in vitro and in vivo malignant glioma models to determine if they improved the efficacy of rQNestin34.5 therapy.

RESULTS: The use of demethylating agents, such as 5-Aza, improved OV replication and tumor cell lysis in vitro and, in fact, synergized pharmacologically on Chou-Talalay analysis. In vivo, the combination of the demethylating agents, 5-Aza or decitabine, with rQNestin34.5 significantly prolonged the survivorship of athymic mice harboring intracranial human glioma xenografts over single agent alone.

CONCLUSION: These results, thus, provide further justification for the exploration of demethylating agents when combined with the OV, rQNestin34.5, in preclinical therapeutics and, possibly, clinical trials for malignant glioma.

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