Radiosensitization of gliomas by intracellular generation of 5-fluorouracil potentiates prodrug activator gene therapy with a retroviral replicating vector.
ABSTRACT: A tumor-selective non-lytic retroviral replicating vector (RRV), Toca 511, and an extended-release formulation of 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC), Toca FC, are currently being evaluated in clinical trials in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma (NCT01156584, NCT01470794 and NCT01985256). Tumor-selective propagation of this RRV enables highly efficient transduction of glioma cells with cytosine deaminase (CD), which serves as a prodrug activator for conversion of the anti-fungal prodrug 5-FC to the anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) directly within the infected cells. We investigated whether, in addition to its direct cytotoxic effects, 5-FU generated intracellularly by RRV-mediated CD/5-FC prodrug activator gene therapy could also act as a radiosensitizing agent. Efficient transduction by RRV and expression of CD were confirmed in the highly aggressive, radioresistant human glioblastoma cell line U87EGFRvIII and its parental cell line U87MG (U87). RRV-transduced cells showed significant radiosensitization even after transient exposure to 5-FC. This was confirmed both in vitro by a clonogenic colony survival assay and in vivo by bioluminescence imaging analysis. These results provide a convincing rationale for development of tumor-targeted radiosensitization strategies utilizing the tumor-selective replicative capability of RRV, and incorporation of radiation therapy into future clinical trials evaluating Toca 511 and Toca FC in brain tumor patients.
Project description:A tumor-selective non-lytic retroviral replicating vector (RRV), Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec), is being investigated in clinical trials in patients with recurrent high grade glioma (rHGG) (www.clinicaltrials.gov NCT01156584, NCT01470794, NCT01985256). Toca 511 encodes a modified yeast cytosine deaminase (CD), which converts oral prodrug 5-FC into the anticancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) within infected tumor cells. Since 5-FU is a radiosensitizer, we investigated in preclinical models the combination of Toca 511, 5-FC and radiation for treatment of human HGG. U87 and radioresistent U87EGFRvIII cells were infected in vitro with Toca 511 and subsequently irradiated with 0, 3, 6 or 9 Gy. In non-irradiated and irradiated cells, RRV infected >95% of cells by day 21 showing that radiation does not perturb viral spread. In vitro clonogenic survival assays showed significant radiosensitization with 5-FC in RRV-infected U87EGFRvIII cells. For in vivo survival studies, U87EGFRvIII cells (5 x 10) were stereotactically implanted into athymic mouse brain and Toca 511 (10 Transducing Units) was injected intratumorally 4 days later. Mice were treated with a single cycle of intraperitoneal PBS or 5-FC (500 mg/kg) for 5 days from day 10 to 14, with or without irradiation (2 Gy/fr/day; total 10 Gy, or 4 Gy/fr/day; total 20 Gy). Mice treated with 20 Gy and a single cycle of 5-FC showed significantly longer survival compared with the other two groups (p<0.0001) and median survival was >75 days. Next, mice were treated with multiple cycles of PBS or 5-FC (intraperitoneal, 5 days every 2 weeks, 5 cycles) with or without irradiation at the lower dose (total 10 Gy). Mice treated with 10 Gy and 5 cycles of 5-FC showed significantly longer survival (p<0.0001) and median survival was >89 days. These efficacy data support clinical investigation of Toca 511 and 5-FC in combination with radiation in the first-line setting for patients with HGG.
Project description:Retroviral replicating vectors (RRVs) are a nonlytic alternative to oncolytic replicating viruses as anticancer agents, being selective both for dividing cells and for cells that have defects in innate immunity and interferon responsiveness. Tumor cells fit both these descriptions. Previous publications have described a prototype based on an amphotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV), encoding yeast cytosine deaminase (CD) that converts the prodrug 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) to the potent anticancer drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in an infected tumor. We report here the selection of one lead clinical candidate based on a general design goal to optimize the genetic stability of the virus and the CD activity produced by the delivered transgene. Vectors were tested for titer, genetic stability, CD protein and enzyme activity, ability to confer susceptibility to 5-FC, and preliminary in vivo antitumor activity and stability. One vector, Toca 511, (aka T5.0002) encoding an optimized CD, shows a threefold increased specific activity in infected cells over infection with the prototype RRV and shows markedly higher genetic stability. Animal testing demonstrated that Toca 511 replicates stably in human tumor xenografts and, after 5-FC administration, causes complete regression of such xenografts. Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec) has been taken forward to preclinical and clinical trials.
Project description:Abstract Toca 511, a clinical-stage retroviral replicating vector (RRV) encoding an optimized yeast cytosine deaminase (CD) prodrug activator gene, in combination with Toca FC (extended-release 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC)), is designed to produce 5-FU which kills cancer cells and immune-suppressive myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment, leading to anti-cancer immune activation and long term survival. The combination treatment is currently under evaluation in an international Phase 2/3 trial in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma. In the present study, we investigated the feasibility of further applying Toca 511 to brain-metastatic breast cancer, which frequently arises from highly aggressive, treatment-refractory, “triple-negative” (ER(-) PR(-) HER2(-)) disease, and is associated with a dismal prognosis of 4-6 months survival. We first evaluated in vitro replication kinetics of RRV encoding the GFP reporter gene in MDA-MB-231-BR (human) and JC (murine) breast cancer cells. After virus inoculation at either M.O.I. of 0.01 or 0.1, high levels of transduction were achieved within 1-2 weeks as measured by flow cytometric quantitation of GFP fluorescence. Next, we tested in vitro cytotoxicity by MTS assay after 5-FC treatment of MDA-MB-231BR and JC cells transduced with Toca 511. In both Toca 511-transduced breast cancer lines, cell viability was reduced by approximately 70-85% after exposure to 0.1 mM 5-FC and complete cell killing was observed with 1 mM 5-FC within 4-6 days. In survival studies, animals treated with Toca 511 followed by 5-FC prodrug showed statistically significant (231-BR: p<0.0001, JC: p=0.0003) survival benefit compared to the control group. These data provide preclinical validation for a new Phase Ib trial evaluating RRV-mediated immunotherapy in various types of metastatic malignancies, including CNS-metastatic breast cancer (TOCA 6 trial: clinicaltrials.gov NCT02576665), currently recruiting at the University of Miami.
Project description:Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec), a nonlytic, amphotropic retroviral replicating vector (RRV), encodes and delivers a functionally optimized yeast cytosine deaminase (CD) gene to tumors. In orthotopic glioma models treated with Toca 511 and 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) the CD enzyme within infected cells converts 5-FC to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), resulting in tumor killing. Toca 511, delivered locally either by intratumoral injection or by injection into the resection bed, in combination with subsequent oral extended-release 5-FC (Toca FC), is under clinical investigation in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma (HGG). If feasible, intravenous administration of vectors is less invasive, can easily be repeated if desired, and may be applicable to other tumor types. Here, we present preclinical data that support the development of an intravenous administration protocol. First we show that intravenous administration of Toca 511 in a preclinical model did not lead to widespread or uncontrolled replication of the RVV. No, or low, viral DNA was found in the blood and most of the tissues examined 180 days after Toca 511 administration. We also show that RRV administered intravenously leads to efficient infection and spread of the vector carrying the green fluorescent protein (GFP)-encoding gene (Toca GFP) through tumors in both immune-competent and immune-compromised animal models. However, initial vector localization within the tumor appeared to depend on the mode of administration. Long-term survival was observed in immune-competent mice when Toca 511 was administered intravenously or intracranially in combination with 5-FC treatment, and this combination was well tolerated in the preclinical models. Enhanced survival could also be achieved in animals with preexisting immune response to vector, supporting the potential for repeated administration. On the basis of these and other supporting data, a clinical trial investigating intravenous administration of Toca 511 in patients with recurrent HGG is currently open and enrolling.
Project description:Background:Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec) is a retroviral replicating vector encoding an optimized yeast cytosine deaminase (CD). Tumor-selective expression of CD converts the prodrug, 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC), into the active chemotherapeutic, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). This therapeutic approach is being tested in a randomized phase II/III trial in recurrent glioblastoma and anaplastic astrocytoma (NCT0241416). The aim of this study was to identify the immune cell subsets contributing to antitumor immune responses following treatment with 5-FC in Toca 511-expressing gliomas in a syngeneic mouse model. Methods:Flow cytometry was utilized to monitor and characterize the immune cell infiltrate in subcutaneous Tu-2449 gliomas in B6C3F1 mice treated with Toca 511 and 5-FC. Results:Tumor-bearing animals treated with Toca 511 and 5-FC display alterations in immune cell populations within the tumor that result in antitumor immune protection. Attenuated immune subsets were exclusive to immunosuppressive cells of myeloid origin. Depletion of immunosuppressive cells temporally preceded a second event which included expansion of T cells which were polarized away from Th2 and Th17 in the CD4+ T cell compartment with concomitant expansion of interferon gamma-expressing CD8+ T cells. Immune alterations correlated with clearance of Tu-2449 subcutaneous tumors and T cell-dependent protection from future tumor challenge. Conclusions:Treatment with Toca 511 and 5-FC has a concentrated effect at the site of the tumor which causes direct tumor cell death and alterations in immune cell infiltrate, resulting in a tumor microenvironment that is more permissive to establishment of a T cell mediated antitumor immune response.
Project description:Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec) is an investigational nonlytic, retroviral replicating vector (RRV) that delivers a yeast cytosine deaminase, which converts subsequently administered courses of the investigational prodrug Toca FC (extended-release 5-fluorocytosine) into the antimetabolite 5-fluorouracil. Forty-five subjects with recurrent or progressive high-grade glioma were treated. The end points of this phase 1, open-label, ascending dose, multicenter trial included safety, efficacy, and molecular profiling; survival was compared to a matching subgroup from an external control. Overall survival for recurrent high-grade glioma was 13.6 months (95% confidence interval, 10.8 to 20.0) and was statistically improved relative to an external control (hazard ratio, 0.45; P = 0.003). Tumor samples from subjects surviving more than 52 weeks after Toca 511 delivery disproportionately displayed a survival-related mRNA expression signature, identifying a potential molecular signature that may correlate with treatment-related survival rather than being prognostic. Toca 511 and Toca FC show excellent tolerability, with RRV persisting in the tumor and RRV control systemically. The favorable assessment of Toca 511 and Toca FC supports confirmation in a randomized phase 2/3 trial (NCT02414165).
Project description:Patients with the most common and aggressive form of high-grade glioma, glioblastoma multiforme, have poor prognosis and few treatment options. In 2 immunocompetent mouse brain tumor models (CT26-BALB/c and Tu-2449-B6C3F1), we showed that a nonlytic retroviral replicating vector (Toca 511) stably delivers an optimized cytosine deaminase prodrug activating gene to the tumor lesion and leads to long-term survival after treatment with 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC). Survival benefit is dose dependent for both vector and 5-FC, and as few as 4 cycles of 5-FC dosing after Toca 511 therapy provides significant survival advantage. In the virally permissive CT26-BALB/c model, spread of Toca 511 to other tissues, particularly lymphoid tissues, is detectable by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) over a wide range of levels. In the Tu-2449-B6C3F1 model, Toca 511 PCR signal in nontumor tissues is much lower, spread is not always observed, and when observed, is mainly detected in lymphoid tissues at low levels. The difference in vector genome spread correlates with a more effective antiviral restriction element, APOBEC3, present in the B6C3F1 mice. Despite these differences, neither strain showed signs of treatment-related toxicity. These data support the concept that, in immunocompetent animals, a replicating retroviral vector carrying a prodrug activating gene (Toca 511) can spread through a tumor mass, leading to selective elimination of the tumor after prodrug administration, without local or systemic pathology. This concept is under investigation in an ongoing phase I/II clinical trial of Toca 511 in combination with 5-FC in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma (www.clinicaltrials.gov NCT01156584).
Project description:Treatment of tumors with Toca 511, a gamma retroviral replicating vector encoding cytosine deaminase, followed by 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) kills tumors by local production of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). In brain tumor models, this treatment induces systemic anti-tumor immune responses and long-term immune-mediated survival. Phase 1 Toca 511 and Toca FC (extended-release 5-FC) clinical trials in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma show durable complete responses and promising survival data compared to historic controls. The work described herein served to expand on our earlier findings in two models of metastatic colorectal carcinoma (mCRC). Intravenous (i.v.) delivery of Toca 511 resulted in substantial tumor-selective uptake of vector into metastatic lesions. Subsequent treatment with 5-FC resulted in tumor shrinkage, improved survival, and immune memory against future rechallenge with the same CT26 CRC cell line. Similar results were seen in a brain metastasis model of mCRC. Of note, 5-FC treatment resulted in a significant decrease in myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in mCRC tumors in both the liver and brain. These results support the development of Toca 511 and Toca FC as a novel immunotherapeutic approach for patients with mCRC. A phase 1 study of i.v. Toca 511 and Toca FC in solid tumors, including mCRC, is currently underway (NCT02576665).
Project description:Toca 511, a gamma retroviral replicating vector encoding cytosine deaminase, used in combination with 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) kills tumor by local production of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), inducing local and systemic immunotherapeutic response resulting in long-term survival after cessation of 5-FC. Toca 511 and Toca FC (oral extended-release 5-FC) are under investigation in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma. Lomustine is a treatment option for patients with high-grade glioma.We investigated the effects of lomustine combined with Toca 511 + 5-FC in syngeneic orthotopic glioma models. Safety and survival were evaluated in immune-competent rat F98 and mouse Tu-2449 models comparing Toca 511 + 5-FC to lomustine + 5-FC or the combination of Toca 511 + 5-FC + lomustine. After intracranial implantation of tumor, Toca 511 was delivered transcranially followed by cycles of intraperitoneal 5-FC with or without lomustine at the first or fourth cycle.Coadministration of 5-FC with lomustine was well tolerated. In F98, combination Toca 511 + 5-FC and lomustine increased median survival, but "cures" were not achieved. In Tu-2449, combination Toca 511 + 5-FC and lomustine increased median survival and resulted in high numbers of cure. Rejection of tumor rechallenge occurred after treatment with Toca 511 + 5-FC or combined with lomustine, but not with lomustine + 5-FC. Mixed lymphocyte-tumor cell reactions using splenocytes from cured animals showed robust killing of target cells in an effector:target ratio-dependent manner with Toca 511 + 5-FC and Toca 511 + 5-FC + lomustine day 10.The combination of Toca 511 + 5-FC and lomustine shows promising efficacy with no additive toxicity in murine glioma models. Immunotherapeutic responses resulting in long-term survival were preserved despite lomustine-related myelosuppression.
Project description:Background:Prodrug-activator gene therapy with Toca 511, a tumor-selective retroviral replicating vector (RRV) encoding yeast cytosine deaminase, is being evaluated in recurrent high-grade glioma patients. Nonlytic retroviral infection leads to permanent integration of RRV into the cancer cell genome, converting infected cancer cell and progeny into stable vector producer cells, enabling ongoing transduction and viral persistence within tumors. Cytosine deaminase in infected tumor cells converts the antifungal prodrug 5-fluorocytosine into the anticancer drug 5-fluorouracil, mediating local tumor destruction without significant systemic adverse effects. Methods:Here we investigated mechanisms underlying the therapeutic efficacy of this approach in orthotopic brain tumor models, employing both human glioma xenografts in immunodeficient hosts and syngeneic murine gliomas in immunocompetent hosts. Results:In both models, a single injection of replicating vector followed by prodrug administration achieved long-term survival benefit. In the immunodeficient model, tumors recurred repeatedly, but bioluminescence imaging of tumors enabled tailored scheduling of multicycle prodrug administration, continued control of disease burden, and long-term survival. In the immunocompetent model, complete loss of tumor signal was observed after only 1-2 cycles of prodrug, followed by long-term survival without recurrence for >300 days despite discontinuation of prodrug. Long-term survivors rejected challenge with uninfected glioma cells, indicating immunological responses against native tumor antigens, and immune cell depletion showed a critical role for CD4+ T cells. Conclusion:These results support dual mechanisms of action contributing to the efficacy of RRV-mediated prodrug-activator gene therapy: long-term tumor control by prodrug conversion-mediated cytoreduction, and induction of antitumor immunity.