Avulaviruses represent a diverse subfamily of non-segmented negative strand RNA viruses infecting avian species worldwide. To date, 22 different serotypes have been identified in a variety of avian hosts, including wild and domestic birds. APMV-1, also known as Newcastle disease virus (NDV), is the only avulavirus that has been extensively characterized due to its relevance for the poultry industry and, more recently, its inherent oncolytic activity and potential as a cancer therapeutic. An array of both naturally-occurring and recombinant APMV-1 strains has been tested in different preclinical models and clinical trials, highlighting NDV as a promising viral agent for human cancer therapy. To date, the oncolytic potential of other closely related avulaviruses remains unknown. Here, we have examined the in vivo anti-tumor capability of prototype strains of APMV serotypes -2, -3, -4, -6, -7, -8 and -9 in syngeneic murine colon carcinoma and melanoma tumor models. Our studies have identified APMV-4 Duck/Hong Kong/D3/1975 virus as a novel oncolytic agent with greater therapeutic potential than one of the NDV clinical candidate strains, La Sota. Intratumoral administration of the naturally-occurring APMV-4 virus significantly extends survival, promotes complete remission, and confers protection against re-challenge in both murine colon carcinoma and melanoma tumor models. Furthermore, we have designed a plasmid rescue strategy that allows us to develop recombinant APMV-4-based viruses. The infectious clone rAPMV-4 preserves the extraordinary antitumor capacity of its natural counterpart, paving the way to a promising next generation of viral therapeutics.
Keywords: APMV-4; Avian paramyxovirus 4; Newcastle disease virus; Oncolytic virus; cancer therapy.