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Int J Cancer. 2006 Jun 1;118(11):2907-10.

In vivo enhancement of herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase/ganciclovir cancer gene therapy with polyamine biosynthesis inhibition.

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Department of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, A. I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.


We have earlier demonstrated that inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis with difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) can be used to enhance the cytotoxicity of herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase/ganciclovir (HSV-TK/GCV) gene therapy in different tumor cell lines. Here, the utility of this treatment combination was tested in vivo in a nude mouse tumor model. First, the effect of DFMO was verified by treating mice bearing subcutaneous 9L rat glioma tumors with 2% DFMO in drinking water. The drug treatment induced almost complete suppression of ornithine decarboxylase activity, and as a result, a strong decrease in intratumoral putrescine and spermidine concentrations, which were normalized 4 days after drug removal. Consequently, the tumors displayed a significant reduction in the proliferation activity that was increased to 20% higher than the normal level at day 4 and returned to normal level 7 days after DFMO removal. Next, 9L tumors with 30% of TK-GFP fusion gene positive cells were induced and the animals were given DFMO and GCV in 2 treatment schemes, with the drug administration periods overlapping either 5 or 2 days. The analysis of tumor size at the end of the treatment revealed that DFMO can enhance HSV-TK/GCV cytotoxicity when the overlap between DFMO and GCV was 5 days, but the result was not significant. However, the 2-day overlap scheme yielded a significantly (p < 0.05, ANOVA) enhanced antitumor effect. In conclusion, the data here confirms that a novel combination of 2 clinically relevant treatment modalities, polyamine deprivation and HSV-TK/GCV suicide gene therapy, can be used synergistically in vivo.

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