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Concept: Vesicular stomatitis virus


Background The replication-competent recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)-based vaccine expressing a Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV) glycoprotein was selected for rapid safety and immunogenicity testing before its use in West Africa. Methods We performed three open-label, dose-escalation phase 1 trials and one randomized, double-blind, controlled phase 1 trial to assess safety, side-effect profile, and immunogenicity of rVSV-ZEBOV at various doses in 158 healthy adults in Europe and Africa. All participants were injected with doses of vaccine ranging from 300,000 to 50 million plaque-forming units (PFU) or placebo. Results No serious vaccine-related adverse events were reported. Mild-to-moderate early-onset reactogenicity was frequent but transient (median, 1 day). Fever was observed in up to 35% of vaccinees. Vaccine viremia was detected within 3 days in 103 of 110 participants (94%) receiving 3 million PFU or more; rVSV was not detected in saliva or urine. In the second week after injection, arthritis affecting one to four joints developed in 11 of 51 participants (22%) in Geneva, with pain lasting a median of 8 days; 2 self-limited cases occurred in 40 participants (5%) in Hamburg, Germany, and Kilifi, Kenya. The virus was identified in one synovial-fluid aspirate and in skin vesicles of 2 other vaccinees, showing peripheral viral replication in the second week after immunization. ZEBOV-glycoprotein-specific antibody responses were detected in all the participants, with similar glycoprotein-binding antibody titers but significantly higher neutralizing antibody titers at higher doses. Conclusions In these studies, rVSV-ZEBOV was reactogenic but immunogenic after a single dose and warrants further evaluation for safety and efficacy. (Funded by the Wellcome Trust and others; numbers, NCT02283099 , NCT02287480 , and NCT02296983 ; Pan African Clinical Trials Registry number, PACTR201411000919191 .).

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Clinical trial, Microbiology, Africa, Immunology, Mononegavirales, Vesicular stomatitis virus


Oncolytic virus (OV) therapy is an emerging anti-cancer approach that utilizes viruses to preferentially infect and kill cancer cells, while not harming healthy cells. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a prototypic non-segmented, negative-strand RNA virus with inherent OV qualities. Antiviral responses induced by type I interferon pathways are believed to be impaired in most cancer cells, making them more susceptible to VSV than normal cells. Several other factors make VSV a promising OV candidate for clinical use, including its well-studied biology, a small, easily manipulated genome, relative independence of a receptor or cell cycle, cytoplasmic replication without risk of host-cell transformation, and lack of pre-existing immunity in humans. Moreover, various VSV-based recombinant viruses have been engineered via reverse genetics to improve oncoselectivity, safety, oncotoxicity and stimulation of tumour-specific immunity. Alternative delivery methods are also being studied to minimize premature immune clearance of VSV. OV treatment as a monotherapy is being explored, although many studies have employed VSV in combination with radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other OVs. Preclinical studies with various cancers have demonstrated that VSV is a promising OV; as a result, a human clinical trial using VSV is currently in progress.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Oncology, Microbiology, Virus, Chemotherapy, Oncolytic virus, Vesicular stomatitis virus


The development of antiviral agents is one of the major challenges in medical science. So far, small monovalent molecular drugs that inhibit the late steps in the viral replication cycle, i.e., virus budding, have not worked well which emphasizes the need for alternative approaches. Polyvalently presented viral receptors, however, show potential as good inhibitors of virus-cell binding, which is the first step in the viral infection cycle. By gradually increasing the size of ligand functionalized gold nanoparticles, up to virus-like dimensions, we are now able to quantify the polyvalent enhancement of virus-cell binding inhibition and to identify varying mechanisms of virus inhibition with different efficacies: by employing a new binding assay we found that surface area-normalized polysulfated gold nanoparticles of diameters equal to and larger than the virus diameter (>50 nm) more efficiently inhibit the binding of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) to cells than smaller particles. On a per particle basis, larger sized gold nanoparticles were surprisingly shown to inhibit the viral infection up to two orders of magnitude more efficiently than smaller particles, which suggests different mechanisms of virus inhibition. Based on complementary electron microscopic data, we noticed that larger gold nanoparticles act as efficient cross-linkers between virions, whereas smaller gold nanoparticles decorate the surface of individual virus particles. Our systematic study accentuates the need for the design of biodegradable, virus-sized inhibitors capitalizing on polyvalent binding.

Concepts: Immune system, Microbiology, Virus, Infection, Antiviral drug, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Vesicular stomatitis virus


Second mitochondrial activator of caspase (Smac)-mimetic compounds and oncolytic viruses were developed to kill cancer cells directly. However, Smac-mimetic compound and oncolytic virus therapies also modulate host immune responses in ways we hypothesized would complement one another in promoting anticancer T-cell immunity. We show that Smac-mimetic compound and oncolytic virus therapies synergize in driving CD8(+) T-cell responses toward tumors through distinct activities. Smac-mimetic compound treatment with LCL161 reinvigorates exhausted CD8(+) T cells within immunosuppressed tumors by targeting tumor-associated macrophages for M1-like polarization. Oncolytic virus treatment with vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV(ΔM51)) promotes CD8(+) T-cell accumulation within tumors and CD8(+) T-cell activation within the tumor-draining lymph node. When combined, LCL161 and VSV(ΔM51) therapy engenders CD8(+) T-cell-mediated tumor control in several aggressive mouse models of cancer. Smac-mimetic compound and oncolytic virus therapies are both in clinical development and their combination therapy represents a promising approach for promoting anticancer T-cell immunity.Oncolytic viruses (OV) and second mitochondrial activator of caspase (Smac)-mimetic compounds (SMC) synergistically kill cancer cells directly. Here, the authors show that SMC and OV therapies combination also synergize in vivo by promoting anticancer immunity through an increase in CD8(+) T-cell response.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Oncology, Microbiology, T helper cell, Oncolytic virus, Viruses, Vesicular stomatitis virus


Oncolytic virotherapy is rapidly progressing through clinical evaluation. However, the therapeutic efficacy of oncolytic viruses in humans has been less than expected from preclinical studies. We describe an anticancer drug screen for compounds that enhance M1 oncolytic virus activity in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). An inhibitor of the valosin-containing protein (VCP) was identified as the top sensitizer, selectively increasing potency of the oncolytic virus up to 3600-fold. Further investigation revealed that VCP inhibitors cooperated with M1 virus-suppressed inositol-requiring enzyme 1α (IRE1α)-X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1) pathway and triggered irresolvable endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, subsequently promoting robust apoptosis in HCC. We show that VCP inhibitor improved the oncolytic efficacy of M1 virus in several mouse models of HCC and primary HCC tissues. Finally, this combinatorial therapeutic strategy was well tolerated in nonhuman primates. Our study identifies combined VCP inhibition and oncolytic virus as a potential treatment for HCC and demonstrates promising therapeutic potential.

Concepts: Protein, Oncology, Microbiology, Virus, Endoplasmic reticulum, Oncolytic virus, Viruses, Vesicular stomatitis virus


Quiescent long-term hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSCs) are efficiently activated by type I interferon (IFN-I). However, this effect remains poorly investigated in the context of IFN-I-inducing virus infections. Here we report that both vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection induce LT-HSC activation that substantially differs from the effects triggered upon injection of synthetic IFN-I-inducing agents. In both infections, inflammatory responses had to exceed local thresholds within the bone marrow to confer LT-HSC cell cycle entry, and IFN-I receptor triggering was not critical for this activation. After resolution of acute MCMV infection, LT-HSCs returned to phenotypic quiescence. However, non-acute MCMV infection induced a sustained inflammatory milieu within the bone marrow that was associated with long-lasting impairment of LT-HSC function. In conclusion, our results show that systemic virus infections fundamentally affect LT-HSCs and that also non-acute inflammatory stimuli in bone marrow donors can affect the reconstitution potential of bone marrow transplants.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Virus, Bone marrow, Infection, Hematopoietic stem cell, Vesicular stomatitis virus


We prepared a series of quinoxalin-2-mercapto-acetyl-urea analogs and evaluated them for their ability to inhibit viral egress in our Marburg and Ebola VP40 VLP budding assays in HEK293T cells. We also evaluated selected compounds in our bimolecular complementation assay (BiMC) to detect and visualize a Marburg mVP40-Nedd4 interaction in live mammalian cells. Antiviral activity was assessed for selected compounds using a live recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) (M40 virus) that expresses the EBOV VP40 PPxY L-domain. Finally selected compounds were evaluated in several ADME assays to have an early assessment of their drug properties. Our compounds had low nM potency in these assays (e.g., compounds 21, 24, 26, 39), and had good human liver microsome stability, as well as little or no inhibition of P450 3A4.

Concepts: DNA, Pharmacology, Microbiology, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Mononegavirales, Vesicular stomatitis virus


Adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) is an aggressive cancer of CD4/CD25+ T lymphocytes, the etiological agent of which is human T cell lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV1). ATL is highly refractory to presently existing therapies, making the development of new treatments a high priority. Oncolytic viruses such as Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) are presently being considered as anti-cancer agents since they readily infect transformed cells compared to normal cells, the former appearing to exhibit defective innate immune responses. Here, we have evaluated the efficacy and safety of a recombinant VSV that has been retargeted to specifically infect and replicate in transformed CD4+ cells. This was achieved by replacing the single VSV glycoprotein (G) with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV1) gp160, to create a hybrid fusion protein, gp160G. The resultant virus, VSV-gp160G, was found to only target cells expressing CD4 and retained robust oncolytic activity against HTLV-1 actuated ATL cells. VSV-gp160G was further noted to be highly attenuated and did not replicate efficiently in or induce significant cell death of primary CD4+ T cells. Accordingly, VSV-gp160G did not elicit any evidence of neurotoxicity even in severely immunocompromised animals such as NOD/Shi-scid, IL-2γ-c null mice (NSG). Importantly, VSV-gp160G effectively exerted potent oncolytic activity in patient-derived ATL transplanted into NSG mice and facilitated a significant survival benefit. Our data indicates that VSV-gp160G exerts potent oncolytic efficacy against CD4+ malignant cells and either alone or in conjunction with established therapies may provide an effective treatment in patients displaying ATL.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Microbiology, Natural killer cell, B cell, Human T-lymphotropic virus, Thymus, Vesicular stomatitis virus


Rapid, sensitive, and direct label-free purification and characterization of nanoparticles from complex media such as blood or serum will broadly impact medicine and the life sciences. We demonstrate identification of virus particles in complex samples for replication-competent wild-type vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), defective VSV, and Ebola- and Marburg-pseudotyped VSV with high sensitivity and specificity. Size discrimination of the imaged nanoparticles (virions) allows differentiation between modified viruses having different genome lengths and facilitates a reduction in the counting of non-specifically bound particles to achieve a limit-of-detection (LOD) of 5x103 pfu/mL for the Ebola and Marburg VSV pseudotypes. We demonstrate the simultaneous detection of multiple viruses in a single sample (composed of serum or whole blood) for screening applications and uncompromised detection capabilities in samples contaminated with high levels of bacteria. By employing affinity-based capture, size discrimination, and a “digital” detection scheme to count single virus particles, we show that a robust and sensitive virus/nanoparticle sensing assay can been established for targets in complex samples. The nanoparticle microscopy system is termed the Single Particle Interferometric Reflectance Imaging Sensor (SP-IRIS) and is capable of high-throughput and rapid sizing of large numbers of biological nanoparticles on an antibody microarray for research and diagnostic applications.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Microbiology, Virus, Genome, Type I and type II errors, Sensitivity and specificity, Vesicular stomatitis virus


Cellular senescence is often considered a protection mechanism triggered by conditions that impose cellular stress. Continuous proliferation, DNA damaging agents or activated oncogenes are well-known activators of cell senescence. Apart from a characteristic stable cell cycle arrest, this response also involves a proinflammatory phenotype known as senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). This, together with the widely known interference with senescence pathways by some oncoviruses, had led to the hypothesis that senescence may also be part of the host cell response to fight virus. Here, we evaluate this hypothesis using vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) as a model. Our results show that VSV replication is significantly impaired in both primary and tumor senescent cells in comparison with non-senescent cells, and independently of the stimulus used to trigger senescence. Importantly, we also demonstrate a protective effect of senescence against VSV in vivo. Finally, our results identify the SASP as the major contributor to the antiviral defense exerted by cell senescence in vitro, and points to a role activating and recruiting the immune system to clear out the infection. Thus, our study indicates that cell senescence has also a role as a natural antiviral defense mechanism.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Bacteria, Senescence, Organism, Cell division, Antiviral drug, Vesicular stomatitis virus