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Gene Ther. 2003 Aug;10(15):1241-7.

Telomerase-dependent oncolytic adenovirus for cancer treatment.

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Carl C. Icahn Center for Gene Therapy and Molecular Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.


Conditionally replicative adenovirus (CRAD) is an attractive anticancer agent as it can selectively replicate in tumor cells. Expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) is a unique tumor cell characteristic, being absent in normal postmitotic cells. Thus, we constructed a TERT promoter regulated CRAD for tumor-specific oncolysis by replacing the endogenous adenovirus E1A promoter with that of human TERT (Adv-TERTp-E1A). We showed that its replication was severely attenuated in TERT-negative cells, but that it replicated almost as efficiently as wild-type adenovirus in TERT-positive cells. Accordingly, Adv-TERTp-E1A conferred cytopathicity to TERT-positive, but not TERT-negative, cells. In vivo replication of Adv-TERTp-E1A after local administration into a xenograft model of human hepatocellular carcinoma in nude mice was demonstrated by an increase in adenovirus titers in tumor extracts by several orders of magnitude between 6 h and 3 days postvector injection. Furthermore, significant inhibition of tumor growth with substantial necrotic tumor areas staining positively for adenovirus was observed with Adv-TERTp-E1A, but not with a control replication-deficient adenovirus. There was also the absence of hepatotoxicity in tumor-bearing animals after intratumoral delivery of the CRAD. The results indicate that the TERT promoter-driven CRAD is capable of tumor-selective replication and oncolysis in vitro and in vivo, and can be utilized as an adjuvant treatment agent for cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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