Nanobugs as Drugs: Bacterial Derived Nanomagnets Enhance Tumor Targeting and Oncolytic Activity of HSV-1 Virus

Faith H.N. Howard*, Haider Al-Janabi, Priya Patel, Katie Cox, Emily Smith, Jayakumar Vadakekolathu, A. Graham Pockley, Joe Conner, James F. Nohl, Dan A. Allwood, Cristal Collado-Rojas, Aneurin Kennerley, Sarah Staniland, Munitta Muthana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The survival strategies of infectious organisms have inspired many therapeutics over the years. Indeed the advent of oncolytic viruses (OVs) exploits the uncontrolled replication of cancer cells for production of their progeny resulting in a cancer-targeting treatment that leaves healthy cells unharmed. Their success against inaccessible tumors however, is highly variable due to inadequate tumor targeting following systemic administration. Coassembling herpes simplex virus (HSV1716) with biocompatible magnetic nanoparticles derived from magnetotactic bacteria enables tumor targeting from circulation with magnetic guidance, protects the virus against neutralizing antibodies and thereby enhances viral replication within tumors. This approach additionally enhances the intratumoral recruitment of activated immune cells, promotes antitumor immunity and immune cell death, thereby inducing tumor shrinkage and increasing survival in a syngeneic mouse model of breast cancer by 50%. Exploiting the properties of such a nanocarrier, rather than tropism of the virus, for active tumor targeting offers an exciting, novel approach for enhancing the bioavailability and treatment efficacy of tumor immunotherapies for disseminated neoplasms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2104763
Number of pages15
Issue number13
Early online date25 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support provided by Cancer Research UK (CRUK grant reference: C25574/A24321), EPSRC for the Kratos LiPPS XPS instrument grant (EP/K005138/1), and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska Curie grant agreement No 777682 (CANCER). HSV1716 was kindly provided by Virtuu Biologics Ltd. Special thanks to Dario Carugo, University of Southampton for providing the phantom and Devashish Das for the initial MR imaging.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Small published by Wiley-VCH GmbH

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