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Regression of subcutaneous B16 melanoma tumors after intratumoral delivery of an IL-15-expressing plasmid followed by in vivo electroporation


In vivo electroporation has been used to efficiently deliver drugs and ‘therapeutic’ genes to tumors, including melanoma lesions. This study reports on the effect of intratumoral delivery of an optimized DNA plasmid expressing interleukin-15 (pIL-15) on established murine melanoma tumors. IL-15 has been demonstrated to have a pivotal role in the function of memory CD8+ T cells and natural killer cells, which are critical for tumor immunosurveillance. In this study, C57BL/6 mice were injected with B16.F10 melanoma cells and randomized into different experimental groups: untreated (P−V−E−), treated with pIL-15 (P+) or backbone plasmid (V+), with or without electroporation (E+ or E−). Treatment was performed intratumorally with 50 μg of plasmid on days 0, 4 and 7 and tumor volume/size, tumor regression and long-term survival were measured. At day 100 after initiation of treatment, the percentage of mice surviving with complete tumor regression in the P−V+E+, P+V−E−, P+V−E+ and P−V−E− treatment groups were 0, 12.5, 37.5 and 0%, respectively. These results demonstrate the ability of pIL-15 to mediate B16 melanoma regression, with the effect being significantly enhanced by electroporative delivery. This is the first description of the ability of a naked DNA plasmid expressing IL-15 to alone mediate complete regression of B16 melanoma tumors and underscores the potential clinical use of these plasmids for the treatment of malignant tumors when delivered with in vivo electroporation.

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We acknowledge the assistance of Chuanhai Cao in generating the necessary amounts of the control and IL-15-expressing plasmids. MAK is supported by NIH postdoctoral fellowship F32AI054152. DBW is supported by an IPCP (Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program) grant from the NIH.

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Correspondence to K E Ugen.

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Ugen, K., Kutzler, M., Marrero, B. et al. Regression of subcutaneous B16 melanoma tumors after intratumoral delivery of an IL-15-expressing plasmid followed by in vivo electroporation. Cancer Gene Ther 13, 969–974 (2006).

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