Optimizing Measles Virotherapy in the Treatment of Ovarian Cancer

Project: Research project

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PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of gynecologic cancer death in the U.S. and is responsible for approximately 16,000 deaths each year in the US. Recurrent disease remains incurable and has a dismal prognosis. Novel therapeutic agents are urgently needed. We have demonstrated that engineered measles virus strains have significant antitumor activity against ovarian cancer lines and xenografts. Their tumor specificity is due to abundant expression of the measles virus receptor CD46 in ovarian cancer cells. The virus, upon entry into tumor cells, causes membrane fusion with neighboring cells, syncytia formation and death. Our group was the first to translate this approach into a phase I clinical trial of a measles virus derivative producing human carcinoembryonic antigen, MV-CEA (CEA added to facilitate monitoring of viral gene expression) in recurrent ovarian cancer patients. Despite low levels of viral replication, as evidenced by modest CEA elevation in a subgroup of patients, there was promising early evidence of antitumor activity, including CA-125 decreases and prolonged disease stabilization in heavily pretreated patients. We hypothesize that by increasing the efficiency and extent of tumor cell infection we can further augment the antitumor activity of measles virotherapy in ovarian cancer. We propose to accomplish this by testing the translational potential of three novel approaches: a different measles virus strain, MV-NIS, which encodes the Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS) therapeutic transgene, thus allowing imaging of viral distribution in vivo and use of 131I for radiovirotherapy; use of infected cell carriers for viral delivery; and, combining the measles virus with cyclophosphamide, an agent with immunosuppressive and antitumor properties. This grant proposal has, therefore, the following specific aims, 1) to perform a limited phase I trial of intraperitoneal (IP) administration of MV-NIS in patients with recurrent ovarian cancer; 2) to optimize the efficacy of IP measles virotherapy for ovarian cancer in measles immune mice by employing virus infected cell carriers, and testing the added benefit of cyclophosphamide, an immunosuppressive drug with antitumor properties; 3) to test the efficacy of intravenous (IV) measles virotherapy for ovarian cancer, and optimize it in measles immune mice by using virus infected cell carriers, with and without addition of cyclophosphamide; following optimization of IP or IV delivery the added value of 131I radiovirotherapy will also be tested.
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