BACKGROUND: The conditionally replicating adenovirus (CRAd) AdDelta24-p53 replicates selectively in Rb mutant cells, and encodes the p53 suppressor protein. It has shown improved oncolytic potency compared to the parental control AdDelta24. As exogenous p53 has been shown to enhance radiosensitivity, the combination of AdDelta24-p53 and AdDelta24 with radiotherapy was assessed in vitro and in vivo against the therapy resistant gliomas.
METHODS: In glioma cells, multicellular spheroids and animal xenografts the efficacy of combination therapy was assessed. P53 phosphorylation, induction of apoptosis and viral replication were determined following single or combination therapies.
RESULTS: In vitro, AdDelta24-p53 was more effective against glioma cells than the control AdDelta24. Addition of irradiation equally increased the efficacy of both AdDelta24-p53 and AdDelta24 resulting in improved oncolysis compared to single agent treatment. Radiotherapy did not significantly change the replication kinetics of AdDelta24-p53 or AdDelta24. No detectable increase in p53 phosphorylation was observed but combination of radiotherapy and AdDelta24-p53 caused an increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells. In vivo, combination therapy with either AdDelta24 or AdDelta24-p53 significantly increased the number of mice demonstrating tumor regression (100%) as well as long-term survival (50%). No differences between viruses were noted.
CONCLUSIONS: Exogenous p53 expression does not appear to increase the synergistic interaction of CRAds combined with radiotherapy. These results however do indicate that radiotherapy provides the time frame in which AdDelta24 and AdDelta24-p53 can eradicate established tumors that would otherwise escape treatment, and establishes the need to combine these modalities to form an effective anti-cancer treatment.