Research Papers:

EGFR-targeted nonviral NIS gene transfer for bioimaging and therapy of disseminated colon cancer metastases

Sarah Urnauer, Andrea M. Müller, Christina Schug, Kathrin A. Schmohl, Mariella Tutter, Nathalie Schwenk, Wolfgang Rödl, Stephan Morys, Michael Ingrisch, Jens Bertram, Peter Bartenstein, Dirk-André Clevert, Ernst Wagner and Christine Spitzweg _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:92195-92208. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21028

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Sarah Urnauer1, Andrea M. Müller1, Christina Schug1, Kathrin A. Schmohl1, Mariella Tutter1, Nathalie Schwenk1, Wolfgang Rödl2, Stephan Morys2, Michael Ingrisch3, Jens Bertram4, Peter Bartenstein5, Dirk-André Clevert3, Ernst Wagner2 and Christine Spitzweg1

1Department of Internal Medicine IV, University Hospital of Munich, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany

2Department of Pharmacy, Center of Drug Research, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany

3Department of Clinical Radiology, University Hospital of Munich, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany

4Department of Nuclear Medicine, Radiopharmacy, Klinikum rechts der Isar der Technischen Universität München, Munich, Germany

5Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital of Munich, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany

Correspondence to:

Christine Spitzweg, email: [email protected]

Keywords: sodium iodide symporter, gene therapy, theranostic application, nonviral EGFR-targeted gene transfer, colon cancer metastases

Received: April 26, 2017     Accepted: August 04, 2017     Published: September 16, 2017


Liver metastases present a serious problem in the therapy of advanced colorectal cancer (CRC), as more than 20% of patients have distant metastases at the time of diagnosis with less than 5% being cured. Consequently, new therapeutic approaches are of major need together with high-resolution imaging methods that allow highly specific detection of small metastases.

The unique combination of reporter and therapy gene function of the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) may represent a promising theranostic strategy for CRC liver metastases allowing non-invasive imaging of functional NIS expression and therapeutic application of 131I.

For targeted NIS gene transfer polymers containing linear polyethylenimine (LPEI), polyethylene glycol (PEG) and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-specific ligand GE11 were complexed with human NIS DNA (LPEI-PEG-GE11/NIS). Tumor specificity and transduction efficiency were examined in high EGFR-expressing LS174T metastases by non-invasive imaging using 18F-tetrafluoroborate (18F-TFB) as novel NIS PET tracer. Mice that were injected with LPEI-PEG-GE11/NIS 48 h before 18F-TFB application showed high tumoral levels (4.8±0.6% of injected dose) of NIS-mediated radionuclide uptake in comparison to low levels detected in mice that received untargeted control polyplexes. Three cycles of intravenous injection of EGFR-targeted NIS polyplexes followed by therapeutic application of 55.5 MBq 131I resulted in marked delay in metastases spread, which was associated with improved animal survival.

In conclusion, these preclinical data confirm the enormous potential of EGFR-targeted synthetic polymers for systemic NIS gene delivery in an advanced multifocal CRC liver metastases model and open the exciting prospect of NIS-mediated radionuclide therapy in metastatic disease.

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