Transcription-targeted gene therapy for androgen-independent prostate cancer

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Journal Article
Cancer Gene Therapy, 2002, 9 (5), pp. 443 - 452
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The Escherichia coli enzyme (purine nucleoside phosphorylase, PNP) gene is delivered directly into PC3 tumors by one injection of replication-deficient human type-5 adenovirus (Ad5). Expressed PNP converts the systemically administered prodrug, 6MPDR, to a toxic purine, 6MP, causing cell death. We sought to increase the specificity of recombinant Ad vectors by controlling PNP expression with the promoter region from the androgen-dependent, prostate-specific rat probasin (Pb) gene. To increase its activity, the promoter was combined with the SV40 enhancer (SVPb). Cell lines were transfected with plasmids containing both a reporter gene, under SVPb control, and a reference gene cassette to allow normalization of expression levels. Plasmids expressed ∼20-fold more reporter in prostate cancer than in other cells, but surprisingly, the SVPb element was both androgen-independent and retained substantial prostate specificity. Killing by Ad5-SVPb-PNP vector of cell lines cultured with 6MPDR for 6 days was 5- to 10-fold greater in prostate cancer than in liver or lung cells. In vivo, a single intratumoral injection of Ad5-SVPb-PNP (4×108 pfu), followed by 6MPDR administration twice daily for 6 days, significantly suppressed the growth of human prostate tumors in nude mice and increased their survival compared to control animals. Thus, the androgen-independent, prostate-targeting Ad5 vector reduces human prostate cancer growth significantly in vitro and in vivo. This first example of an androgen-independent vector points the way toward treatment of emerging androgen-independent prostate cancer in conjunction with hormone ablation therapy at a time when the tumor burden is low.
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