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Dr Guy Simpson

Research Fellow Oncology
BSc PhD,
+44 (0)1483 688600
30 PGM 02
9am to 5pm Mon-Fri

Academic and research departments

School of Biosciences and Medicine.


2004 PhD        Optimising therapeutic herpes simplex vectors for cancer.

                        BioVex Ltd/UCL The Windeyer Institute, 46 Cleveland Street, London.

1997 MPhil     Human endogenous retroviral particles expressed in the placenta.

                        Institute of Cancer Research, Chester Beatty Labs, Fulham Road, London.

1988 B.Sc.      Honours Degree in Bioanalytical Science (Class IIi).

                        Kingston Polytechnic, Surrey.

2004-2007       Senior Scientist, UCL (Biovex Ltd), The Windeyer Institute, London..

1999-2004       Scientist UCL (Biovex Ltd), The Windeyer Institute, London.

1995-1999       Research Associate, Prof Thomas F. Schulz, University of Liverpool.

1989-1995      Scientific Officer, Prof Robin Weiss, Institute of Cancer Research

Research Interests

Viral Vectors

Molecular Biology

Tumour Biology

Gene Therapy

My publications


Bolton GC, Simpson GR, Coffey M, Harrington K, Morgan R, Annels N, Launchbury FA, Ajaz M, Pandha H (2014) Resistance to Oncolytic Reovirus is associated with high expression of Yes-Associated Protein-1 (YAP-1) in Head and Neck Cancer, HUMAN GENE THERAPY25(12)pp. A12-A13 MARY ANN LIEBERT, INC
Simpson GR, Coffin RS (2009) Construction and characterization of an oncolytic HSV vector containing a fusogenic glycoprotein and prodrug activation for enhanced local tumor control., Methods Mol Biol542pp. 551-564
A large number of oncolytic viral vectors are currently under clinical development for cancer therapy. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) has demonstrated particular promise in this field, showing genetically engineered selective tumor replication and cytotoxicity in a wide variety of tumor types, without damaging healthy tissues. Enhanced activity has been observed when a range of therapeutic genes has been inserted into various oncolytic HSV genomes. Here, we discuss methods used to develop and characterize an oncolytic HSV virus that combines expression of a highly potent prodrug activating gene (yeast cytosine deaminase/uracil phosphoribosyltransferase fusion [Fcy::Fur]) and the fusogenic glycoprotein from gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV) for enhanced local tumor control.
Simpson GR, Horvath A, Annels NE, Pencavel T, Metcalf S, Seth R, Peschard P, Price T, Coffin RS, Mostafid H, Melcher AA, Harrington KJ, Pandha HS (2012) Combination of a fusogenic glycoprotein, pro-drug activation and oncolytic HSV as an intravesical therapy for superficial bladder cancer, BRITISH JOURNAL OF CANCER106(3)pp. 496-507
Simpson GR, Han Z, Liu B, Wang Y, Campbell G, Coffin RS (2006) Combination of a fusogenic glycoprotein, prodrug activation, and oncolytic herpes simplex virus for enhanced local tumor control., Cancer Res66(9)pp. 4835-4842
We have previously developed an oncolytic herpes simplex virus-1 based on a clinical virus isolate, which was deleted for ICP34.5 to provide tumor selected replication and ICP47 to increase antigen presentation as well as tumor selective virus replication. A phase I/II clinical trial using a version of this virus expressing granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor has shown promising results. The work reported here aimed to develop a version of this virus in which local tumor control was further increased through the combined expression of a highly potent prodrug activating gene [yeast cytosine deaminase/uracil phospho-ribosyltransferase fusion (Fcy::Fur)] and the fusogenic glycoprotein from gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV), which it was hoped would aid the spread of the activated prodrug through the tumor. Viruses expressing the two genes individually or in combination were constructed and tested, showing (a) GALV and/or Fcy::Fur expression did not affect virus growth; (b) GALV expression causes cell fusion and increases the tumor cell killing at least 30-fold in vitro and tumor shrinkage 5- to 10-fold in vivo; (c) additional expression of Fcy::Fur combined with 5-fluorocytosine administration improves tumor shrinkage further. These results indicate, therefore, that the combined expression of the GALV protein and Fcy::Fur provides a highly potent oncolytic virus with improved capabilities for local tumor control. It is intended to enter the GALV/Fcy::Fur expressing virus into clinical development for the treatment of tumor types, such as pancreatic or lung cancer, where local control would be anticipated to be clinically advantageous.
Pandha S, Simpson GR, Horvath A, Coffin RS, Pencavel T, Harrington K (2011) Combination of a fusogenic glycoprotein, pro-drug activation and oncolytic HSV as an intravesical therapy for superficial bladder cancer (visualised by micro CT), BRITISH JOURNAL OF SURGERY98pp. 52-53 WILEY-BLACKWELL
Annels NE, Simpson GR, Bokaee S, Riley C, Denyer M, Pandha H, Morgan R (2012) Modulation of Regulatory T Cells by Targeting The NFAT-FOXP3 Protein: Protein Interaction, JOURNAL OF IMMUNOTHERAPY35(9)pp. 775-775 LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS
Price DL, Lin SF, Han Z, Simpson G, Coffin RS, Wong J, Li S, Fong Y, Wong RJ (2010) Oncolysis using herpes simplex virus type 1 Engineered to express cytosine deaminase and a fusogenic glycoprotein for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery136(2)pp. 151-158
Objective: To determine if prodrug conversion of fluorocytosine to fluorouracil by an engineered herpes virus, OncoVEXGALV/CD, enhances oncolytic therapy of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Design: We assessed the ability of OncoVEXGALV/CD and OncoVEXGFP to infect, replicate within, and lyse 4 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma lines in vitro. The effects of adding fluorocytosine with OncoVEXGALV/CD were evaluated. Results: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma was permissive to green fluorescent protein expression in100% of cells by OncoVEXGFP at a multiplicity of infection of 1 after 48 hours and supported logarithmic viral replication. Virus caused more than 60% cell death 6 days after exposure to virus at a multiplicity of infection of 0.1 in 3 of the 4 cell lines. Fluorocytosine did not enhance cytotoxicity induced by OncoVEXGALV/CD at a multiplicity of infection of 0.1. However, for the least-sensitive SCC25 cell line, virus at a multiplicity of infection of 0.01 was cytotoxic to only 4% of cells after 6 days but was cytotoxic to 35% of cells with fluorocytosine. Conclusions: OncoVEXGALV/CD efficiently infects, replicates within, and lyses head and neck squamous cell carcinoma at relatively low viral doses. Prodrug conversion by cytosine deaminase did not enhance therapy at viral doses that cause efficient cytotoxicity but may have beneficial effects in less-sensitive cell lines at low viral doses. ©2010 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Heinemann L, Simpson GR, Annels NE, Vile R, Melcher A, Prestwich R, Harrington KJ, Pandha HS (2010) The Effect of Cell Cycle Synchronization on Tumor Sensitivity to Reovirus Oncolysis, MOLECULAR THERAPY18(12)pp. 2085-2093 NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Pandha S, Heinemann L, Simpson GR, Boxall A, Relph K, Morgan R (2011) Synergistic effects of oncolytic reovirus and docetaxel chemotherapy in prostate cancer,BRITISH JOURNAL OF SURGERY98pp. 47-48 WILEY-BLACKWELL
Simpson GR, Ajaz M, Launchbury FA, Bolton G, Melcher AA, Harrington KJ, Au GG, Shafren DR, Pandha HS (2014) Major synergy between Coxsackievirus A21 (CAVATAK (TM)) and radiotherapy or chemotherapy in bladder cancer,HUMAN GENE THERAPY25(12)pp. A13-A13 MARY ANN LIEBERT, INC
Heinemann L, Simpson G, Harrington K, Melcher A, Coffey MC, Pandha HS (2008) Synergistic anti-tumour activity of oncolytic Reovirus and cisplatin in a B16.F10 mouse melanoma model, EJC SUPPLEMENTS6(12)pp. 99-99 PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD
De Paoli M, Gogalic S, Sauer U, Preininger C, Pandha H, Simpson G, Horvath A, Marquette C (2016) Multiplatform Biomarker Discovery for Bladder Cancer Recurrence Diagnosis, DISEASE MARKERSARTN 4591910 HINDAWI PUBLISHING CORP
Morgan R, Boxall A, Harrington KJ, Simpson GR, Michael A, Pandha HS (2014) Targeting HOX transcription factors in prostate cancer, BMC Urology14(1)
Background: The HOX genes are a family of transcription factors that help to determine cell and tissue identity during early development, and which are also over-expressed in a number of malignancies where they have been shown to promote cell proliferation and survival. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the expression of HOX genes in prostate cancer and to establish whether prostate cancer cells are sensitive to killing by HXR9, an inhibitor of HOX function. Methods. HOX function was inhibited using the HXR9 peptide. HOX gene expression was assessed by RNA extraction from cells or tissues followed by quantitative PCR, and siRNA was used to block the expression of the HOX target gene, cFos. In vivo modelling involved a mouse flank tumour induced by inoculation with LNCaP cells. Results: In this study we show that the expression of HOX genes in prostate tumours is greatly increased with respect to normal prostate tissue. Targeting the interaction between HOX proteins and their PBX cofactor induces apoptosis in the prostate cancer derived cell lines PC3, DU145 and LNCaP, through a mechanism that involves a rapid increase in the expression of cFos, an oncogenic transcription factor. Furthermore, disrupting HOX/PBX binding using the HXR9 antagonist blocks the growth of LNCaP tumours in a xenograft model over an extended period. Conclusion: Many HOX genes are highly over-expressed in prostate cancer, and prostate cancer cells are sensitive to killing by HXR9 both in vitro and in vivo. The HOX genes are therefore a potential therapeutic target in prostate cancer. © 2014 Morgan et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Morgan R, Simpson G, Gray S, Gillett C, Tabi Z, Spicer J, Harrington KJ, Pandha HS (2016) HOX transcription factors are potential targets and markers in malignant mesothelioma,BMC CANCER16ARTN 85 BIOMED CENTRAL LTD
Heinemann L, Simpson GR, Boxall A, Kottke T, Relph KL, Vile R, Melcher A, Prestwich R, Harrington KJ, Morgan R, Pandha HS (2011) Synergistic effects of oncolytic reovirus and docetaxel chemotherapy in prostate cancer.,BMC Cancer11 Biomed Central
Reovirus type 3 Dearing (T3D) has demonstrated oncolytic activity in vitro, in in vivo murine models and in early clinical trials. However the true potential of oncolytic viruses may only be realized fully in combination with other modalities such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiotherapy. In this study, we examine the oncolytic activity of reovirus T3D and chemotherapeutic agents against human prostate cancer cell lines, with particular focus on the highly metastatic cell line PC3 and the chemotherapeutic agent docetaxel. Docetaxel is the standard of care for metastatic prostate cancer and acts by disrupting the normal process of microtubule assembly and disassembly. Reoviruses have been shown to associate with microtubules and may require this association for efficient viral replication.
Coffin RS, Liu B, Han Z, Assenberg M, Thomas S, Hu J, Simpson G (2006) OncoVEX: A Family of Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Viruses Optimised for Therapeutic Use, MOLECULAR THERAPY13pp. S64-S64 NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Annels NE, Riley C, Bokaee S, Denyer M, Simpson GR, Pandha H (2010) EN2: A Novel Immunotherapeutic Target for Melanoma, J IMMUNOTHER33(8)pp. 891-891 LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS
Seth R, Khan AA, Pencavel TD, Wilkinson MJ, Kyula JN, Simpson G, Pandha H, Melcher A, Vile R, Harris PA, Harrington KJ (2015) Adenovirally delivered enzyme prodrug therapy with herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase in composite tissue free flaps shows therapeutic efficacy in rat models of glioma., Plast Reconstr Surg135(2)pp. 475-487
INTRODUCTION: Free flap gene therapy exploits a novel therapeutic window when viral vectors can be delivered into a flap ex vivo. The authors investigated the therapeutic potential of an adenovirally-delivered thymidine kinase/ganciclovir prodrug system expressed following vector delivery into a free flap. METHODS: The authors demonstrated direct in vitro cytotoxicity by treating a panel of malignant cell lines with the thymidine kinase/ganciclovir system and demonstrated significant cell kill proportional to the multiplicity of infection of adenoviral vector expressing thymidine kinase. Bystander cytotoxicity was demonstrated using conditioned media from producer cells (expressing adenovirally-delivered thymidine kinase and treated with ganciclovir) to demonstrate cytotoxicity in naive tumor cells. The authors investigated the effect of adenoviral vector expressing thymidine kinase/ganciclovir therapy in vivo, using models of microscopic and macroscopic residual disease in a rodent superficial inferior epigastric artery flap model. RESULTS: The authors observed retardation of tumor volume growth in both microscopic (p = 0.0004) and macroscopic (p = 0.0005) residual disease models and prolongation of animal survival. Gene expression studies demonstrated that viral genomic material was found predominantly in flap tissues but declined over time. CONCLUSIONS: The authors describe the utility of virally delivered enzyme/prodrug therapy, using a free flap as a vehicle for delivery. They discuss the merits and limitations of this approach and the unique role of therapeutic free flaps among reconstructive techniques available to the plastic surgeon.
Simpson GR, Relph KL, Harrington K, Melcher A, Pandha H (2016) Cancer immunotherapy via combining oncolytic virotherapy with chemotherapy: recent advances,Oncolytic Virotherapy2016(5)pp. 1-13 Dove Medical Press
Oncolytic viruses are multifunctional anticancer agents with huge clinical potential, and have recently passed the randomized Phase III clinical trial hurdle. Both wild-type and engineered viruses have been selected for targeting of specific cancers, to elicit cytotoxicity, and also to generate antitumor immunity. Single-agent oncolytic virotherapy treatments have resulted in modest effects in the clinic. There is increasing interest in their combination with cytotoxic agents, radiotherapy and immune-checkpoint inhibitors. Similarly to oncolytic viruses, the benefits of chemotherapeutic agents may be that they induce systemic antitumor immunity through the induction of immunogenic cell death of cancer cells. Combining these two treatment modalities has to date resulted in significant potential in vitro and in vivo synergies through various mechanisms without any apparent additional toxicities. Chemotherapy has been and will continue to be integral to the management of advanced cancers. This review therefore focuses on the potential for a number of common cytotoxic agents to be combined with clinically relevant oncolytic viruses. In many cases, this combined approach has already advanced to the clinical trial arena.
Han ZQ, Assenberg M, Liu BL, Wang YB, Simpson G, Thomas S, Coffin RS (2007) Development of a second-generation oncolytic Herpes simplex virus expressing TNFalpha for cancer therapy., J Gene Med9(2)pp. 99-106
BACKGROUND: Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) therapy is a promising anti-cancer treatment when combined with radiotherapy due to its potent radio sensitising effects, but systemic toxicity has limited its clinical use. Previously, non-replicative adenovirus vectors have been used to deliver TNFalpha directly to the tumour, including under the control of a radiation sensitive promoter. Here, we have used an ICP34.5 deleted, oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV) for delivery to increase expression levels and spread through the tumour, and the use of the US11 true late HSV promoter to limit expression to where the virus replicates, i.e. selectively in tumour tissue. METHODS: TNFalpha expression under the CMV or US11 promoter was compared on cell lines CT26, BHK and Fadu. To further compare the activities of the promoters, expression of human TNFalpha was analysed in the presence and absence of acyclovir--an inhibitor of viral DNA replication and on HSV/ICP34.5- non-permissive cell line 3T6. The in vivo efficacy and toxicity of TNFalpha viruses were compared using A20 double flank tumour model in Balb/C mice and Fadu tumour model in nude mice. RESULTS: The results demonstrated that the US11 promoter significantly reduced and delayed TNFalpha expression as compared to use of the CMV promoter, especially in non-permissive cells or in the presence of acyclovir. Despite the reduced and more selective expression levels, US11 driven TNFalpha showed improved anti-tumour effects compared to CMV driven TNFalpha, and without the toxic side effects. CONCLUSIONS: This approach is therefore beneficial in increasing localised TNFalpha expression as compared to the use of non-replicative approaches, and combines the effects of TNFalpha with oncolytic virus replication which is expected to further enhance the efficacy of radiotherapy in a combined treatment approach.
Wong J, Kelly K, Mittra A, Gonzalez SJ, Song KY, Simpson G, Coffin R, Fong Y (2010) A Third-Generation Herpesvirus Is Effective Against Gastroesophageal Cancer, JOURNAL OF SURGICAL RESEARCH163(2)pp. 214-220 ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE
Annels NE, Simpson GR, Denyer M, McGrath SE, Falgari G, Killick E, Eeles R, Stebbing J, Pchejetski D, Cutress R, Murray N, Michael A, Pandha H (2014) Spontaneous antibodies against Engrailed-2 (EN2) protein in patients with prostate cancer.,Clin Exp Immunol177(2)pp. 428-438
We reported the expression of the homeodomain-containing transcription factor Engrailed-2 (EN2) in prostate cancer and showed that the presence of EN2 protein in the urine was highly predictive of prostate cancer. This study aimed to determine whether patients with prostate cancer have EN2 autoantibodies, what the prevalence of these antibodies is and whether they are associated with disease stage. The spontaneous immunoglobulin (Ig)G immune response against EN2 and for comparison the tumour antigen New York Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 1 (NY-ESO-1), were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in three different cohorts of prostate cancer patients as well as a group of men genetically predisposed to prostate cancer. Thirty-two of 353 (9·1%) of the SUN cohort representing all stages of prostate cancer demonstrated EN2 IgG responses, 12 of 107 patients (11·2%) in the advanced prostate cancer patients showed responses, while only four of 121 patients (3·3%) with castrate-resistant prostate cancer showed EN2 autoantibodies. No significant responses were found in the predisposed group. Anti-EN2 IgG responses were significantly higher in patients with prostate cancer compared to healthy control males and similarly prevalent to anti-NY-ESO-1 responses. While EN2 autoantibodies are not a useful diagnostic or monitoring tool, EN2 immunogenicity provides the rationale to pursue studies using EN2 as an immunotherapeutic target.
Comins C, Simpson GR, Relph K, Harrington KJ, Melcher A, Pandha H (2013) Reoviral Therapy for Cancer: Strategies for Improving Antitumor Efficacy Using Radio- and Chemotherapy, pp. 185-198
Reovirus type 3 Dearing (Reolysin, Oncolytics Biotech) is a wild-type double-stranded RNA virus that is ubiquitous and nonpathogenic in humans. It has been shown to be oncolytic by its ability to replicate in transformed cells but not in normal cells. Reovirus has been shown to exert significant antitumor effects in both preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies. In addition, reovirus can activate both innate and adaptive antitumor response against human and murine tumors. However, despite antitumor activity, the responses to reovirus monotherapy in human trials have been modest and short-lived. As a result, a number of potential strategies for improving antitumor efficacy are currently being evaluated. This chapter describes the application of oncolytic reovirus as an anticancer agent, alone or in combination with conventional therapies such as radiotherapy and chemotherapeutics. It also summarizes current clinical trials on reovirus therapy. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Michael A, Riley, C, Bokaee S, Denyer M, Pandha H, Annels N (2011) EN2: A candidate antigen for the development of targeted therapies in ovarian cancer., JCO(J Clin Oncol 29: 2011 (suppl; abstr e15528))
Background: Ovarian cancer remains the most lethal gynaecologic tumour in the Western world. Stimulation of the immune system to consolidate response to chemotherapy can potentially be beneficial however so far none of the vaccination strategies have offered survival advantage. Thus identifying and targeting clinically relevant antigens for immunotherapy continues to be an important research strategy. We have evaluated Engrailed-2 (EN2) as a potential target for vaccine strategy. EN2 is a homeodomain-containing transcription factor with a multifunctional role in neural development. There is evidence that over-expression of EN2 protein maybe linked to tumour development. Methods: Ovarian cancer cell lines were analysed by FACS for EN2 cell surface expression. EN2 expression in ovarian cancer tissue arrays were done by immunohistochemistry. A serum analysis (ELISA) was done to evaluate the presence of antibodies to EN2 in ovarian cancer patients and age-matched controls. A set of potentially immunogenic HLA-A2 restricted epitopes from the EN2 protein was identified using a computer algorithm SYFPEITHI. These peptides have been tested on HLA-A2 positive ovarian cancer patients? PBMC using an in vitro culture method. The specificity of these T cell lines was analysed against T2 target cells loaded with or without EN2 peptides Results: Cell surface expression of EN2 was observed in ovarian cancer cell lines OVCAR3, OV90, CaOV-3, ES-2 and SKOV-3 of which ES-2 and SKOV3 showed strong expression. EN2 was also present in approximately 80% of ovarian cancer tissues whereas EN-2 expression was very low (<10%) or absent in normal tissues. Out of the 67 ovarian cancer patients 20.9% (14/67) had antibodies against EN2 compared to 2.4% (1/42) of age-matched female controls. 4 of the identified EN2 epitopes were able to generate peptide specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in the ovarian cancer patients tested. Conclusions: The over-expression and immunogenicity of EN2 in ovarian cancer makes it a credible antigen to exploit as a novel target for ovarian cancer immunotherapy. ~
Gogalic S, Sauer U, Doppler S, Heinzel A, Perco P, Lukas A, Simpson G, Pandha H, Horvath A, Preininger C (2017) Validation of a protein panel for the non-invasive detection of recurrent non-muscle invasive bladder cancer,Biomarkers22(7)pp. 674-681 Taylor & Francis
Context: About 50?70% of patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) experience relapse of disease. Objective: To establish a panel of protein biomarkers incorporated in a multiplexed microarray (BCa chip) and a classifier for diagnosing recurrent NMIBC. Materials and methods: Urine samples from 45 patients were tested. Diagnostic performance was evaluated by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Results: A multi biomarker panel (ECadh, IL8, MMP9, EN2, VEGF, past recurrences, BCG therapies and stage at diagnosis) was identified yielding an area under the curve of 0.96. Discussion and conclusion: This biomarker panel represents a potential diagnostic tool for noninvasive diagnosis of recurrent NMIBC.
Pandha HS, Heinemann L, Simpson GR, Melcher A, Prestwich R, Errington F, Coffey M, Harrington K, Morgan RGL (2009) Synergistic Effects of Oncolytic Reovirus and Cisplatin Chemotherapy in Murine Malignant Melanoma,Clinical Cancer Research15(19)pp. 6158-6166 American Association for Cancer Research
Morgan Richard, Boxall A, Simpson Guy, Michael Agnieszka, Pandha Hardev, Harrington KJ, Gillett C (2012) Targeting the HOX/PBX dimer in breast cancer,Breast Cancer Research and Treatment136(2)pp. 389-398 Springer Verlag
The HOX genes are a family of closely related transcription factors that help to define the identity of cells and tissues during embryonic development and which are also frequently deregulated in a number of malignancies, including breast cancer. While relatively little is known about the roles that individual HOX genes play in cancer, it is however clear that these roles can be both contradictory, with some members acting as oncogenes and some as tumor suppressors, and also redundant, with several genes essentially having the same function. Here, we have attempted to address this complexity using the HXR9 peptide to target the interaction between HOX proteins and PBX, a second transcription factor that serves as a common co-factor for many HOX proteins. We show that HXR9 causes apoptosis in a number of breast cancer-derived cell lines and that sensitivity to HXR9 is directly related to the averaged expression of HOX genes HOXB1 through to HOXB9, providing a potential biomarker to predict the sensitivity of breast tumors to HXR9 or its derivatives. Measuring the expression of HOX genes HOXB1-HOXB9 in primary tumors revealed that a subset of tumors show highly elevated expression indicating that these might be potentially very sensitive to killing by HXR9. Furthermore, we show that while HXR9 blocks the oncogenic activity of HOX genes, it does not affect the known tumor-suppressor properties of a subset of HOX genes in breast cancer.
Comins C, Simpson Guy, Rogers William, Relph Kate, Harrington K, Melcher A, Roulestone V, Kyula J, Pandha Hardev (2018) Synergistic anti-tumour effects of rapamycin and oncolytic reovirus,Cancer Gene Therapy25pp. 148-160 Nature Publishing Group
There are currently numerous oncolytic viruses undergoing clinical trial evaluation in cancer patients and one agent,Talimogene laherparepvec, has been approved for the treatment of malignant melanoma. This progress highlights the huge clinical potential of this treatment modality, and the focus is now combining these agents with conventional anti-cancer treatments or agents that enhance viral replication, and thereby oncolysis, in the tumour microenvironment. We evaluated the combination of reovirus with rapamycin in B16F10 cell, a murine model of malignant melanoma, based on potential mechanisms by which mTOR inhibitors might enhance viral oncolysis. Rapamycin was not immunomodulatory in that it had no effect on the generation of an anti-reovirus neutralising antibody response in C57/black 6 mice. The cell cycle effects of reovirus (increase G0/G1 fraction) were unaffected by concomitant or sequential exposure of rapamycin, However, rapamycin attenuated viral replication if given prior or concomitantly with reovirus and similarly reduced reovirus-induced apoptotic cell death annexin V/PI and caspase 3/7 activation studies. We found clear evidence of synergistic antitumour effects of the combination both in vitro and in vivo, which was sequence dependent only in the in vitro setting. In conclusion, we have demonstrated synergistic anti-tumour efficacy of reovirus and rapamycin combination.
Annels Nicola, Arif Mehreen, Simpson Guy, Denyer Mick, Moller-Levet Carla, Mansfield David, Butler Rachel, Shafren Darren, Au Gough, Knowles Margaret, Harrington Kevin, Vile Richard, Melcher Alan, Pandha Hardev (2018) Oncolytic Immunotherapy for Bladder Cancer Using Coxsackie A21 Virus,Molecular Therapy - Oncolytics9pp. 1-12 Elsevier
As a clinical setting in which local live biological therapy is already well established, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) presents intriguing opportunities for oncolytic virotherapy. Coxsackievirus A21 (CVA21) is a novel intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)-targeted immunotherapeutic virus. This study investigated CVA21-induced cytotoxicity in a panel of human bladder cancer cell lines, revealing a range of sensitivities largely correlating with expression of the viral receptor ICAM-1. CVA21 in combination with low doses of mitomycin-C enhanced CVA21 viral replication and oncolysis by increasing surface expression levels of ICAM-1. This was further confirmed using 300-¼m precision slices of NMIBC where levels of virus protein expression and induction of apoptosis were enhanced with prior exposure to mitomycin-C. Given the importance of the immunogenicity of dying cancer cells for triggering tumor-specific responses and long-term therapeutic success, the ability of CVA21 to induce immunogenic cell death was investigated. CVA21 induced immunogenic apoptosis in bladder cancer cell lines, as evidenced by expression of the immunogenic cell death (ICD) determinant calreticulin, and HMGB-1 release and the ability to reject MB49 tumors in syngeneic mice after vaccination with MB49 cells undergoing CVA21 induced ICD. Such CVA21 immunotherapy could offer a potentially less toxic, more effective option for the treatment of bladder cancer.
Annels Nicola E, Mansfield David, Arif Mehreen, Ballesteros-Merino Carmen, Simpson Guy R, Denyer Mick, Sandhu Sarbjinder S, Melcher Alan, Harrington Kevin J, Davies BronwYn, Au Gough, Grose Mark, Bagwan Izhar N, Fox Bernard A., Vile Richard G, Mostafid Hugh, Shafren Darren, Pandha Hardev (2019) Viral targeting of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer and priming of anti-tumour immunity following intravesical Coxsackievirus A21,Clinical Cancer Research American Association for Cancer Research

Purpose: The CANON (CAVATAK in NON-muscle invasive bladder cancer) study evaluated a novel ICAM-1-targeted immunotherapeutic-coxsackievirus A21 as a novel oncolytic agent against bladder cancer.

Experimental Design: Fifteen patients enrolled on this 'window of opportunity' phase 1 study, exposing primary bladder cancers to CAVATAK prior to surgery. The first nine patients received intravesical administration of monotherapy CAVATAK; in the second stage, six patients received CAVATAK with a sub-therapeutic dose of mitomycinC, known to enhance expression of ICAM-1 on bladder cancer cells. The primary endpoint was to determine patient safety and maximum tolerated dose. Secondary endpoints were evidence of viral replication, induction of inflammatory cytokines, anti-tumour activity and viral-induced changes in resected tissue.

Results: Clinical activity of CAVATAK was demonstrated by induction of tumour inflammation and haemorrhage following either single or multiple administrations of CAVATAK in multiple patients, and a complete resolution of tumour in one patient. Whether used alone or in combination with mitomycinC, CAVATAK caused marked inflammatory changes within NMIBC tissue biopsies by up-regulating interferon-inducible genes including both immune checkpoint-inhibitory genes (PD-L1 and LAG3) and Th1-associated chemokines as well as induction of the innate activator RIG-I, compared to bladder cancer tissue from untreated patients. No significant toxicities were reported in any patient, from either virus or combination therapy.

Conclusions: The acceptable safety profile of CAVATAK, proof of viral targeting, replication and tumour cell death together with the virus-mediated increases in "immunological heat" within the tumour microenvironment all indicate that CAVATAK may be potentially considered as a novel therapeutic for NMIBC.