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BACKGROUND - Adenoviruses are attractive vectors for gene therapy because of their stability in vivo and the possibility of production at high titers. Despite exciting preclinical data with various approaches, there are only a few examples of clear efficacy in clinical trials. Effective gene delivery to target cells remains the key variable determining efficacy and thus enhanced transduction methods are important.
METHODS/RESULTS - We found that heated serum could enhance adenovirus 5 mediated gene delivery up to twentyfold. A new protein-level interaction was found between fiber knob and serum transthyretin, but this was not responsible for the observed effect. Instead, we found that heating caused the calcium and phosphate present in the serum mix to precipitate, and this was responsible for enhanced gene delivery. This finding could have relevance for designing preclinical experiments with adenoviruses, since calcium and phosphate are present in many solutions. To translate this into an approach potentially testable in patients, we used calcium gluconate in phosphate buffered saline, both of which are clinically approved, to increase adenoviral gene transfer up to 300-fold in vitro. Gene transfer was increased with or without heating and in a manner independent from the coxsackie-adenovirus receptor. In vivo, in mouse studies, gene delivery was increased 2-, 110-, 12- and 13-fold to tumors, lungs, heart and liver and did not result in increased pro-inflammatory cytokine induction. Antitumor efficacy of a replication competent virus was also increased significantly.
CONCLUSION - In summary, adenoviral gene transfer and antitumor efficacy can be enhanced by calcium gluconate in phosphate buffered saline.