Gene therapy using replication-competent adenovirus that selectively propagates in tumor cells may be an effective treatment for cancer. We developed an adenovirus that would be replication specific for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Based on our finding that the E1B55k-deficient adenovirus was able to replicate in human primary hepatocytes, we therefore designed an adenovirus carrying E1A and attenuated E1B gene driven by the alpha-fetoprotein promoter (Adv-AFP-E1AdB), thus restricting the replication specificity in AFP-producing HCC. Replication of Adv-AFP-E1AdB in primary hepatocytes was practically negligible 4 days after infection. Although Adv-AFP-E1AdB replicated slowly in AFP-producing HCC, it efficiently destroyed HCC cells independent of their p53 status. Experiments were conducted in vivo using systemic administration of Adv-AFP-E1AdB and we observed tumor size reduction in nude mice having liver cancer. The use of replication-competent adenovirus deficient of the E1B gene coupled to an AFP-targeting strategy may be a safe and efficacious treatment for HCC.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.