Enhanced efficacy with azacytidine and oncolytic BHV-1 in a tolerized cotton rat model of breast adenocarcinoma
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Oncolytic viruses selectively replicate in cancer cells by exploiting biochemical differences between normal and tumor cells. Treatment with epigenetic modifiers such as 5-Azacytidine, a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, increases the replication and cytotoxicity of oncolytic viruses in vivo and in vitro. The cotton rat is an attractive animal to study oncolytic viruses, as syngeneic models of breast adenocarcinoma and osteosarcoma are well established, and many features of primary and secondary tumor growth recapitulate human disease. Treatment of LCRT breast cancer cells with 5-Azacytidine increases bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1)-mediated cytotoxicity in vitro, with Chou-Talalay analysis indicating a very strong synergy. In vivo, BHV-1 monotherapy delayed tumor growth but did not improve survival of cotton rats with subcutaneous breast adenocarcinomas. However, combination therapy significantly decreased the incidence of secondary lesions, with enhanced tumor cell clearance and evidence of immune cell infiltration compared to BHV-1 monotherapy. Together, these results warrant further investigation of BHV-1 combination therapy with epigenetic modifiers for the treatment of breast cancer, particularly in the context of the prevention and treatment of secondary lesions.