• Effective immunotherapy of weakly immunogenic solid tumours using a combined immunogene therapy and regulatory T-cell inactivation.

      Whelan, M C; Casey, G; MacConmara, M; Lederer, J A; Soden, D; Collins, J K; Tangney, M; O'Sullivan, G C; Cork Cancer Research Centre, Mercy University Hospital and Leslie C Quick Jnr, Laboratory, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. (2012-01-31)
      Obstacles to effective immunotherapeutic anti-cancer approaches include poor immunogenicity of the tumour cells and the presence of tolerogenic mechanisms in the tumour microenvironment. We report an effective immune-based treatment of weakly immunogenic, growing solid tumours using a locally delivered immunogene therapy to promote development of immune effector responses in the tumour microenvironment and a systemic based T regulatory cell (Treg) inactivation strategy to potentiate these responses by elimination of tolerogenic or immune suppressor influences. As the JBS fibrosarcoma is weakly immunogenic and accumulates Treg in its microenvironment with progressive growth, we used this tumour model to test our combined immunotherapies. Plasmids encoding GM-CSF and B7-1 were electrically delivered into 100 mm(3) tumours; Treg inactivation was accomplished by systemic administration of anti-CD25 antibody (Ab). Using this approach, we found that complete elimination of tumours was achieved at a level of 60% by immunogene therapy, 25% for Treg inactivation and 90% for combined therapies. Moreover, we found that these responses were immune transferable, systemic, tumour specific and durable. Combined gene-based immune effector therapy and Treg inactivation represents an effective treatment for weakly antigenic solid growing tumours and that could be considered for clinical development.
    • A novel Listeria monocytogenes-based DNA delivery system for cancer gene therapy.

      van Pijkeren, Jan Peter; Morrissey, David; Monk, Ian R; Cronin, Michelle; Rajendran, Simon; O'Sullivan, Gerald C; Gahan, Cormac G M; Tangney, Mark; Cork Cancer Research Centre, Mercy University Hospital and Leslie C. Quick Jnr., Laboratory, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. (2012-01-31)
      Bacteria-mediated transfer of plasmid DNA to mammalian cells (bactofection) has been shown to have significant potential as an approach to express heterologous proteins in various cell types. This is achieved through entry of the entire bacterium into cells, followed by release of plasmid DNA. In a murine model, we show that Listeria monocytogenes can invade and spread in tumors, and establish the use of Listeria to deliver genes to tumors in vivo. A novel approach to vector lysis and release of plasmid DNA through antibiotic administration was developed. Ampicillin administration facilitated both plasmid transfer and safety control of vector. To further improve on the gene delivery system, we selected a Listeria monocytogenes derivative that is more sensitive to ampicillin, and less pathogenic than the wild-type strain. Incorporation of a eukaryotic-transcribed lysin cassette in the plasmid further increased bacterial lysis. Successful gene delivery of firefly luciferase to growing tumors in murine models and to patient breast tumor samples ex vivo was achieved. The model described encompasses a three-phase treatment regimen, involving (1) intratumoral administration of vector followed by a period of vector spread, (2) systemic ampicillin administration to induce vector lysis and plasmid transfer, and (3) systemic administration of combined moxifloxacin and ampicillin to eliminate systemic vector. For the first time, our results reveal the potential of Listeria monocytogenes for in vivo gene delivery.