An Infrared Dye-Conjugated Virus-like Particle for the Treatment of Primary Uveal Melanoma


Kines RC, Varsavsky I, Choudhary S, Bhattacharya D, Spring S, McLaughlin R, Kang SJ, Grossniklaus HE, Vavvas D, Monks S, MacDougall JR, de Los Pinos E, Schiller JT. An Infrared Dye-Conjugated Virus-like Particle for the Treatment of Primary Uveal Melanoma. Mol Cancer Ther 2018;17(2):565-574.

Date Published:

2018 Feb


The work outlined herein describes AU-011, a novel recombinant papillomavirus-like particle (VLP) drug conjugate and its initial evaluation as a potential treatment for primary uveal melanoma. The VLP is conjugated with a phthalocyanine photosensitizer, IRDye 700DX, that exerts its cytotoxic effect through photoactivation with a near-infrared laser. We assessed the anticancer properties of AU-011utilizing a panel of human cancer cell lines andusing murine subcutaneous and rabbit orthotopic xenograft models of uveal melanoma. The specificity of VLP binding (tumor targeting), mediated through cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), was assessed using HSPG-deficient cells and by inclusion of heparin instudies. Our results provide evidence of potent and selective anticancer activity, bothandAU-011 activity was blocked by inhibiting its association with HSPG using heparin and using cells lacking surface HSPG, indicating that the tumor tropism of the VLP was not affected by dye conjugation and cell association is critical for AU-011-mediated cytotoxicity. Using the uveal melanoma xenograft models, we observed tumor uptake following intravenous (murine) and intravitreal (rabbit) administration and, after photoactivation, potent dose-dependent tumor responses. Furthermore, in the rabbit orthotopic model, which closely models uveal melanoma as it presents in the clinic, tumor treatment spared the retina and adjacent ocular structures. Our results support further clinical development of this novel therapeutic modality that might transform visual outcomes and provide a targeted therapy for the early-stage treatment of patients with this rare and life-threatening disease..

Last updated on 03/02/2018