ICP34.5 deleted herpes simplex virus with enhanced oncolytic, immune stimulating, and anti-tumour properties

Gene Ther. 2003 Feb;10(4):292-303. doi: 10.1038/sj.gt.3301885.


Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV1) in which the neurovirulence factor ICP34.5 is inactivated has been shown to direct tumour-specific cell lysis in several tumour models. Such viruses have also been shown to be safe in Phase I clinical trials by intra-tumoral injection in glioma and melanoma patients. Previous work has used serially passaged laboratory isolates of HSV1 which we hypothesized may be attenuated in their lytic capability in human tumour cells as compared to more recent clinical isolates. To produce ICP34.5 deleted HSV with enhanced oncolytic potential, we tested two clinical isolates. Both showed improved cell killing in all human tumour cell lines tested compared to a laboratory strain (strain 17+). ICP34.5 was then deleted from one of the clinical isolate strains (strain JS1). Enhanced tumour cell killing with ICP34.5 deleted HSV has also been reported by the deletion of ICP47 by the up-regulation of US11 which occurs following this mutation. Thus to further improve oncolytic properties, ICP47 was removed from JS1/ICP34.5-. As ICP47 also functions to block antigen processing in HSV infected cells, this mutation was also anticipated to improve the immune stimulating properties of the virus. Finally, to provide viruses with maximum oncolytic and immune stimulating properties, the gene for human or mouse GM-CSF was inserted into the JS1/34.5-/47- vector backbone. GM-CSF is a potent immune stimulator promoting the differentiation of progenitor cells into dendritic cells and has shown promise in clinical trials when delivered by a number of means. Combination of GM-CSF with oncolytic therapy may be particularly effective as the necrotic cell death accompanying virus replication should serve to effectively release tumour antigens to then induce a GM-CSF-enhanced immune response. This would, in effect, provide an in situ, patient-specific, anti-tumour vaccine. The viruses constructed were tested in vitro in human tumour cell lines and in vivo in mice demonstrating significant anti-tumour effects. These were greatly improved compared to viruses not containing each of the modifications described. In vivo, both injected and non-injected tumours showed significant shrinkage or clearance and mice were protected against re-challenge with tumour cells. The data presented indicate that JS1/ICP34.5-/ICP47-/GM-CSF acts as a powerful oncolytic agent which may be appropriate for the treatment of a number of solid tumour types in man.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / genetics
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / therapeutic use
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*
  • Virulence Factors / genetics*


  • Viral Proteins
  • Virulence Factors
  • gamma 34.5 protein, Human herpesvirus 1
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor