Oncolytic measles virus (MV) strains have demonstrated broad spectrum preclinical anti-tumor efficacy, including breast cancer. Aurora A kinase controls mitotic spindle formation and has a critical role in malignant transformation. We hypothesized that the Aurora A kinase inhibitor MLN8237 (alisertib) can increase MV oncolytic effect and efficacy by causing mitotic arrest. Alisertib enhanced MV oncolysis in vitro and significantly improved outcome in vivo against breast cancer xenografts. In a disseminated MDA-231-lu-P4 lung metastatic model, the MV/alisertib combination treatment markedly increased median survival to 82.5 days with 20% of the animals being long-term survivors versus 48 days median survival for the control animals. Similarly, in a pleural effusion model of advanced breast cancer, the MV/alisertib combination significantly improved outcome with a 74.5 day median survival versus the single agent groups (57 and 40 days, respectively). Increased viral gene expression and IL-24 upregulation were demonstrated, representing possible mechanisms for the observed increase in anti-tumor effect. Inhibiting Aurora A kinase with alisertib represents a novel approach to enhance MV-mediated oncolysis and antitumor effect. Both oncolytic MV strains and alisertib are currently tested in clinical trials, this study therefore provides the basis for translational applications of this combinatorial strategy in the treatment of patients with advanced breast cancer.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We wish to thank Dr Jeffery A. Ecsedy from Oncology Translational Medicine, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co., Cambridge, Massachusetts for his input about MLN-8237 drug formulation and dosing. This work was supported by NIH Grants P50CA 116201, R01CA 136547, and R01CA 154348, an Atwater Foundation Grant, and the Nan Sawyer Fund.