Systemic delivery and SPECT/CT in vivo imaging of 125I-labelled oncolytic adenoviral mutants in models of pancreatic cancer.
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Early phase clinical trials have demonstrated good therapeutic index for oncolytic adenoviruses in patients with solid tumours when administered intratumorally, resulting in local tumour elimination. Entrapment and binding of adenovirus to erythrocytes, blood factors, and neutralising antibodies have prevented efficient systemic delivery and targeting of distant lesions in the clinic. We previously generated the novel replication-selective Ad-3∆-A20T to improve tumour targeting by increasing the viral dose at distant sites. Here, we developed a protocol to directly radiolabel the virus for rapid and sensitive detection by single-photon emitted computed tomography (SPECT/CT) providing a convenient method for determining biodistribution following intravenous administration in murine models. Longitudinal whole-body scans, demonstrated efficient viral uptake in pancreatic Suit-2 and Panc04.03 xenografts with trace amounts of 125I-Ad-3∆-A20T up to 48 h after tail vein delivery. Hepatic and splenic radioactivity decreased over time. Analysis of tissues harvested at the end of the study, confirmed potency and selectivity of mutant viruses. Ad-3∆-A20T-treated animals showed higher viral genome copy numbers and E1A gene expression in tumors than in liver and spleen compared to Ad5wt. Our direct radiolabeling approach, allows for immediate screening of novel oncolytic adenoviruses and selection of optimal viral genome alterations to generate improved mutants.