Ideal cancer gene therapies should have high tumor specificity and efficacy, and allow systemic administration to target metastases. We recently developed a bi-directional, two-step transcriptional amplification (TSTA) system driven by the tumor-specific Survivin promoter (pSurv) to amplify the correlated expression of both the reporter gene firefly luciferase (FL) and therapeutic gene tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Here, we compare the specificity and potency of an adenovirus carrying this system (Ad-pSurv-TSTA-TRAIL-FL) to a nonspecific vector (Ad-pCMV-FL) in an orthotopic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) rat model after systemic administration. At 24?h after injection of Ad-pCMV-FL, bioluminescence imaging revealed a trend (P=0.30) towards greater FL expression in liver versus tumor. In striking contrast, Ad-pSurv-TSTA-TRAIL-FL showed increased FL activity within the tumor compared with the liver (P<0.01), a strong trend towards reduced liver expression compared with Ad-pCMV-FL (P=0.07), and importantly, similar FL levels within tumor compared with Ad-pCMV-FL (P=0.32). Hence, this vector shows potent, tumor-specific transgene expression even after extensive liver transduction and may be of significant value in avoiding hepatotoxicity in HCC patients. Future studies will explore the benefits of tumor-specific TRAIL expression in this model, the potential to target metastases and the extension of this vector for the treatment of other Survivin-positive tumors is warranted.
View details for DOI 10.1038/gt.2011.5
View details for Web of Science ID 000291438900010
View details for PubMedID 21307888
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4154811