Influenza virus vector iNS1 expressing bovine papillomavirus 1 (BPV1) antigens efficiently induces tumour regression in equine sarcoid patients

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 19;16(11):e0260155. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0260155. eCollection 2021.


Bovine papillomaviruses types 1 and 2 (BPV1, BPV2) commonly induce skin tumours termed sarcoids in horses and other equids. Sarcoids seriously compromise the health and welfare of affected individuals due to their propensity to resist treatment and reoccur in a more severe form. We have developed influenza (Flu) A and B virus vectors that harbour a truncated NS1 gene (iNS) assuring interferon induction and co-express shuffled BPV1 E6 and E7 antigens for sarcoid immunotherapy. In a safety trial involving 12 healthy horses, intradermal administration of iNSA/E6E7equ and iNSB/E6E7equ was well tolerated, with the only transient side effect being mild fever in four horses. Repeated screening of secretions and faeces by RT-PCR and plaque assay revealed no virus shedding, thus also confirming biological safety. In a patient trial involving 29 horses bearing BPV1-induced single or multiple sarcoids, at least one lesion per horse was intratumourally injected and then boosted with iNSA/E6E7equ and/or iNSB/E6E7equ. The treatment induced a systemic antitumour response as reflected by the synchronous regression of injected and non-injected lesions. Irrespective of vaccination schemes, complete tumour regression was achieved in 10/29 horses. In 10/29 horses, regression is still ongoing (May 2021). Intriguingly, scrapings collected from former tumour sites in two patients tested negative by BPV1 PCR. Nine severely affected individuals with a history of unsuccessful therapeutic attempts did not (6/29) or only transiently (3/29) respond to the treatment. INSA/E6E7equ and iNSB/E6E7equ proved safe and effective in significantly reducing the tumour burden even in severe cases.

Grant support

The study was funded by the Vienna Business Agency. Funding went to SB, University of Veterinary Medicine, and to BlueSky Immunotherapies, Vienna, Austria. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.