Oncolytic HSV-1 strains engineered to counter the innate host response
Ian Mohr, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Microbiology
Background and Description of Technology:
A new modality for the treatment of cancer involves the use of oncolytic viruses
genetically engineered to be unable to replicate in normal tissue yet retaining the ability
to replicate in and destroy malignant cells. Using this strategy, oncolytic herpes simplex
virus type 1 (HSV-1) strains have been generated by removing the viral g134.5 gene, a
critical determinant of viral virulence. HSV-1 g134.5 mutants are radically attenuated and
have been safely administered to rodents, non-human primates, and humans. The use
of HSV-1 is proving to be safe as a cancer treatment in several clinical trials. However,
g134.5 mutant viruses grow poorly in tumor cells, as they are unable to counteract the
powerful innate host response mediated by interferon.
Dr. Mohr has discovered that a specific gene in the HSV-1 virus functions to counteract
the innate host response mediated by interferon. Taking advantage of this knowledge, a
method has been developed whereby the growth properties of a g134.5 mutant virus in
malignant cells can be dramatically improved, providing a more effective oncolytic agent.
Patent applications have been filed covering composition and methods on the above
technology. NYU is seeking commercial partners to develop modified HSV-1 strains for
the oncology space.