Background: Toca 511, a gamma retroviral replicating vector encoding cytosine deaminase, used in combination with 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) kills tumor by local production of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), inducing local and systemic immunotherapeutic response resulting in long-term survival after cessation of 5-FC. Toca 511 and Toca FC (oral extended-release 5-FC) are under investigation in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma. Lomustine is a treatment option for patients with high-grade glioma.
Methods: We investigated the effects of lomustine combined with Toca 511 + 5-FC in syngeneic orthotopic glioma models. Safety and survival were evaluated in immune-competent rat F98 and mouse Tu-2449 models comparing Toca 511 + 5-FC to lomustine + 5-FC or the combination of Toca 511 + 5-FC + lomustine. After intracranial implantation of tumor, Toca 511 was delivered transcranially followed by cycles of intraperitoneal 5-FC with or without lomustine at the first or fourth cycle.
Results: Coadministration of 5-FC with lomustine was well tolerated. In F98, combination Toca 511 + 5-FC and lomustine increased median survival, but "cures" were not achieved. In Tu-2449, combination Toca 511 + 5-FC and lomustine increased median survival and resulted in high numbers of cure. Rejection of tumor rechallenge occurred after treatment with Toca 511 + 5-FC or combined with lomustine, but not with lomustine + 5-FC. Mixed lymphocyte-tumor cell reactions using splenocytes from cured animals showed robust killing of target cells in an effector:target ratio-dependent manner with Toca 511 + 5-FC and Toca 511 + 5-FC + lomustine day 10.
Conclusion: The combination of Toca 511 + 5-FC and lomustine shows promising efficacy with no additive toxicity in murine glioma models. Immunotherapeutic responses resulting in long-term survival were preserved despite lomustine-related myelosuppression.
Keywords: 5-FC; Toca 511; high-grade gliomas; immunotherapy; lomustine (CCNU).
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