1. The United Innovation of Mengchao Hepatobiliary Technology Key Laboratory of Fujian Province, Mengchao Hepatobiliary Hospital of Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou 350025, P. R. China.
2. CAS Key Laboratory of Design and Assembly of Functional Nanostructures, Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Fuzhou 350002, P. R. China.
3. Mengchao Med-X Center, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350116, P. R. China.
4. Liver Disease Center, The First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou 350005, P. R. China.
5. Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, P. R. China.
*Y. L, B. W, and Q. C, contributed equally to this work.
Rationale: Immuno-virotherapy has emerged as a promising approach for cancer treatment, as it directly and cytotoxically eliminates tumors with systemic immune stimulation. However, the clinical efficacy of this approach remains limited by inappropriate delivery routes, robust antiviral responses, and the tumor immunosuppressive microenvironment.
Methods: To address these challenges, we propose a surface engineering strategy that masks oncolytic herpes simplex virus (oHSV) with a galactose-polyethylene-glycol (PEG) polymer chain to minimize host antiviral responses and selectively targets tumors by limiting exposure to circulation upon systemic administration. We evaluated the antitumor efficacy of glycosylated-PEG-oHSV by examining tumor growth in animal models and analyzing tumor-infiltrating CD8+T cells and NK cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME). To assess the neutralizing antibody levels after systemic administration of glycosylated-PEG-oHSV, we utilized a mouse model and measured oHSV-specific IgG.
Results: We demonstrate that the glycosylated-PEG modified oHSV does not affect the replication of oHSV yet exhibits high specificity to the asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR) overexpressed in hepatocellular carcinoma cells. This results in selectively targeting cancer cells and deep penetration into tumors while avoiding spreading into the brain. Our approach also effectively reduces oHSV-specific neutralizing antibody levels to mitigate host antiviral immune response. Notably, our glycosylated-PEG-oHSV alleviates the immunosuppressive microenvironment within tumors by reducing regulatory T cells, augmenting the infiltration of activated CD8+T cells and NK cells with increasing release of anti-tumor cytokines, to impede tumor progression.
Conclusion: Our findings offer a widely applicable and universal strategy to enhance cancer immuno-virotherapy through systemic administration of non-genetically engineered oncolytic viruses. This approach has the potential to overcome the limitations of current immune-virotherapy strategies and may improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients.
Keywords: Oncolytic Virus, ASGPR, galactose-PEG polymer chain, systemic delivery, immuno-virotherapy.