Research Papers:

The natural dietary genistein boosts bacteriophage-mediated cancer cell killing by improving phage-targeted tumor cell transduction

Effrosyni Tsafa, Mariam Al-Bahrani, Kaoutar Bentayebi, Justyna Przystal, Keittisak Suwan and Amin Hajitou _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:52135-52149. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10662

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Effrosyni Tsafa1, Mariam Al-Bahrani1, Kaoutar Bentayebi2, Justyna Przystal1, Keittisak Suwan1, Amin Hajitou1

1Phage Therapy Group, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, London, United Kingdom

2Biotechnology Laboratory (Medbiotech), Medical and Pharmacy School, University Mohammed V de Rabat, Rabat, Morocco

Correspondence to:

Amin Hajitou, email: [email protected]

Keywords: bacteriophage display, genistein, cancer therapy, isoflavone, phage therapy

Received: November 24, 2015     Accepted: June 16, 2016     Published: July 18, 2016


Gene therapy has long been regarded as a promising treatment for cancer. However, cancer gene therapy is still facing the challenge of targeting gene delivery vectors specifically to tumors when administered via clinically acceptable non-invasive systemic routes (i.e. intravenous). The bacteria virus, bacteriophage (phage), represents a new generation of promising vectors in systemic gene delivery since their targeting can be achieved through phage capsid display ligands, which enable them to home to specific tumor receptors without the need to ablate any native eukaryotic tropism. We have previously reported a tumor specific bacteriophage vector named adeno-associated virus/phage, or AAVP, in which gene expression is under a recombinant human rAAV2 virus genome targeted to tumors via a ligand-directed phage capsid. However, cancer gene therapy with this tumor-targeted vector achieved variable outcomes ranging from tumor regression to no effect in both experimental and natural preclinical models. Herein, we hypothesized that combining the natural dietary genistein, with proven anticancer activity, would improve bacteriophage anticancer safe therapy. We show that combination treatment with genistein and AAVP increased targeted cancer cell killing by AAVP carrying the gene for Herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSVtk) in 2D tissue cultures and 3D tumor spheroids. We found this increased tumor cell killing was associated with enhanced AAVP-mediated gene expression. Next, we established that genistein protects AAVP against proteasome degradation and enhances vector genome accumulation in the nucleus. Combination of genistein and phage-guided virotherapy is a safe and promising strategy that should be considered in anticancer therapy with AAVP.

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