In completed and ongoing clinical trials, adenovirus-mediated (Ad.) expression of herpes-simplexvirus thymidine-kinase (HSV-tk) gene transduction followed by ganciclovir (GCV) therapy has produced limited toxicity and evidence of antitumor activity following injection of the prostate. Furthermore, this system has been shown to direct systemic antitumor activity in several experimental cancer models, including that of prostate cancer, which may serve as the basis for in-situ immunomodulatory gene therapy. In a mouse model of prostate cancer, natural killer (NK) cells have been identified as the mediator of antimetastatic activity following Ad.HSV-tk + GCV, resulting in the combination of Ad.HSV-tk and adenovirus-mediated expression of interleukin 12 (Ad.IL-12) to exploit this cytokine's ability to enhance NK proliferation and cytotoxicity. Combination therapy demonstrated superior local and systemic growth suppression over that obtained with either therapy alone. Importantly, when the metastatic tumor burden was increased to an extent that negated the growth-suppressive activity directed by Ad.HSVtk + GCV or Ad.IL-12 alone, combination therapy continued to demonstrate significant growth suppression. Examination of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes documented enhanced NK lytic activity following combination therapy. Therefore, it appears that the combination of Ad.HSV-tk and Ad.IL-12 should be validated in a clinical trial for the treatment of prostate cancer.
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