Publications by authors named "Nigel Aj McMillan"

9 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

RNA-based gene targeting therapies for human papillomavirus driven cancers.

Cancer Lett 2021 Oct 8;523:111-120. Epub 2021 Oct 8.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Medical Sciences, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. Electronic address:

While platinum-based chemotherapy, radiation therapy and or surgery are effective in reducing human papillomavirus (HPV) driven cancer tumours, they have some significant drawbacks, including low specificity for tumour, toxicity, and severe adverse effects. Though current therapies for HPV-driven cancers are effective, severe late toxicity associated with current treatments contributes to the deterioration of patient quality of life. This warrants the need for novel therapies for HPV derived cancers. In this short review, we examined RNA-based therapies targeting the major HPV oncogenes, including short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) as putative treatment modalities. We also explore other potential RNA-based targeting approaches such as microRNAs (miRNAs), long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), and mRNA vaccines as future treatment modalities for HPV cancers. Some of these technologies have already been approved for clinical use for a range of other human diseases but not for HPV cancers. Here we explore the emerging evidence supporting the effectiveness of some of these gene-based therapies for HPV malignancies. In short, the evidence sheds promising light on the feasibility of translating these technologies into a clinically relevant treatment modality for HPV derived cancers and potentially other virally driven human cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canlet.2021.10.005DOI Listing
October 2021

A novel method for the development of plasmid DNA-loaded nanoliposomes for cancer gene therapy.

Drug Deliv Transl Res 2021 Jul 28. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

Drug Applied Research Center & Faculty of Pharmacy, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.

We aimed to develop a simple yet novel method to prepare plasmid DNA-loaded nanoliposomes for cancer gene therapy. Murine interleukin-12 (mIL-12) pDNA-loaded nanoliposomes were prepared via novel freeze-drying of a monophase solution method. The physicochemical characteristics, cytotoxicity, and transfection efficiency of the prepared nanoliposomes in murine CT-26 colon carcinoma cells were evaluated. Furthermore, tumor progression and survival rate in CT-26 colon carcinoma-bearing BALB/c mice subsequent to direct intratumoral injections were investigated over a period of 40 days. Using this preparation method, nanoliposomes with particle size of around 300 nm and zeta potential of 96.5 mV were obtained. The transmission electron microscope results showed that the liposomes were nano-sized and almost spherical. The agarose gel retardation assay revealed the pDNA encapsulation in the nanoliposomes. The nanoliposomes with 72.4% encapsulation efficiency and low cell toxicity could significantly improve mIL-12 expression by approximately 25-fold relative to the naked mIL-12 pDNA. There was a significant tumor growth inhibition after repeated injections of mIL-12 pDNA-loaded nanoliposomes. This is the first study on the freeze-drying of a monophase solution method as a simple yet novel technique for the preparation of pDNA-loaded nanoliposomes. Given the ease of preparation method and promising in vitro and in vivo characteristics, this investigation demonstrates advances in pDNA lipid formulation for cancer gene therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13346-021-01034-0DOI Listing
July 2021

Alpelisib and radiotherapy treatment enhances Alisertib-mediated cervical cancer tumor killing.

Am J Cancer Res 2021 15;11(6):3240-3251. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland and School of Medical Science, School of Medical Science, Griffith University Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the main causative agent in cervical cancers. High-risk HPV cancers, including cervical cancer, are driven by major HPV oncogene, E6 and E7, which promote uncontrolled cell growth and genomic instability. We have previously shown that the presence of HPV E7 sensitizes cells to inhibition of aurora kinases (AURKs), which regulates the control of cell entry into and through mitosis. Such treatment is highly effective at eliminating early tumors and reducing large, late tumors. In addition, the presence of HPV oncogenes also sensitizes cells to inhibition of phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks), a family of enzymes involved in cellular functions such as cell growth and proliferation. Using MLN8237 (Alisertib), an oral, selective inhibitor of AURKs, we investigated whether Alisertib treatment can improve tumor response when combined with either radiotherapy (RT) treatment or with a PI3K inhibitor, BYL719 (Alpelisib). Indeed, both RT and Alpelisib significantly improved Alisertib-mediated tumor killing, and the promising achieved results warrant further development of these combinations, and potentially translating them to the clinics.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8263691PMC
June 2021

Smart drug combinations for cervical cancer: dual targeting of Bcl-2 family of proteins and aurora kinases.

Am J Cancer Res 2020 1;10(10):3406-3414. Epub 2020 Oct 1.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland, School of Medical Science, Griffith University Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main causative agent in cervical cancers. Recurrent cervical cancer is refractory to currently available treatments. Clearly there is an urgent unmet need to investigate new therapeutic strategies for both the newly diagnosed and recurrent patient populations. We have previously shown that the presence of HPV oncogenes sensitizes cells to inhibition of aurora kinases (AURKs), which induces mitotic delay eventually leading to apoptotic cell death. In this study, we explored whether a dual approach of combining an AURK inhibitor, MLN8237 (Alisertib), with a range of Bcl-2 family anti-apoptotic protein inhibitors would accelerate cancer cell killing. Enhanced and rapid cervical cancer cell killing was observed when Alisertib was combined with inhibitors of either Bcl-2 (Venetoclax), Bcl-XL (A1331852) or Mcl-1 (A1210477) proteins, likely by accelerating apoptosis during mitotic delay due to the loss of functional Bcl-2, Mcl-1, or Bcl-XL. This study presents a promising approach to treating aggressive cervical cancers and may apply to other HPV-related cancers.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7642645PMC
October 2020

Loss of HPV type 16 E7 restores cGAS-STING responses in human papilloma virus-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas cells.

J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2021 Aug 30;54(4):733-739. Epub 2020 Jul 30.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland, School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Southport, Queensland, Australia. Electronic address:

Human papilloma viruses (HPV) are the main culprit in cervical and oropharyngeal cancers. HPV positive (+) cancers are regarded as 'oncogene addicted', displaying an absolute requirement for the continued expression of the oncogenes for their viability owing their survival, and thus making these genes salient targets for developing specific therapeutic agents. There is a strong association between HPV and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCC), a subset of head and neck cancers (HNCs). Alarmingly, HPV-associated OPSCC are on the rise globally, and the number of cases of HPV + OPSCCs surpasses that of cervical cancer in the USA. Here, we show that major HPV oncogenes, E6 and E7, are essential for the survival of HPV positive (+) OPSCCs, making these oncogenes salient targets for HPV-driven OPSCCs. HPV E7 is known to interact with STING, a component of the viral DNA-sensing cGAS-STING machinery which activates a pro-typical anti-viral type I interferon (IFN) response. Our recent work showed that E7 from HPV type 16 is responsible for the blockade of cGAS-STING responses in HPV + OPSCC cells. In this study, we show that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated loss of E7 from HPV + OPSCC cells, SCC2 and SCC104, restored cGAS-STING responses. Future work could involve HPV oncogene targeting leading to HPV + OPSCC tumour regression and that the combined use of STING agonists would induce favourable tumour clearance by activating appropriate anti-tumour responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmii.2020.07.010DOI Listing
August 2021

cGAS-STING responses are dampened in high-risk HPV type 16 positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells.

Microb Pathog 2019 Jul 2;132:162-165. Epub 2019 May 2.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland, School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Southport, Queensland, Australia. Electronic address:

Head and neck cancers (HNCs) are a major health problem and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. More than 90% of these tumours are head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). Amongst the common risk factors for HNCs (tobacco and alcohol use), there is a strong association of human papillomavirus (HPV) with HNSCCs. HPV type 16 (HPV 16), the major high-risk HPV type, is most commonly associated with HPV-driven HNSCCs. The promiscuous nature of the major HPV oncogene, E7, allows its interaction with a myriad of host proteins including STING, a component of the viral DNA-sensing cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) - stimulator of interferon genes (STING) machinery. Sensing of viral DNA by the cGAS-STING machinery results in a type I interferon (IFN)-mediated anti-viral response. Amelioration of IFN responses resulting from the direct blockade of STING by E7 was first demonstrated in high-risk HPV type 18 (HPV 18) positive (+) cervical squamous cell carcinoma (CESC) cells. However, the role of E7 from HPV 16 (HPV 16E7) in antagonising cGAS-STING responses have not been investigated, let alone in the context of HNSCCs. Here, we show that HPV 16E7+, but not HPV 16E7 negative (-), HNSCC cells respond poorly to cGAS-STING activation stimulus. We further confirm that this inhibition occurred via the highly conserved LXCXE motif in 16E7. This finding contributes to the better understanding of role of high-risk HPV E7 in blocking cGAS-STING pathway, especially in the context of HNSCCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micpath.2019.05.004DOI Listing
July 2019

CD62L as a therapeutic target in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Clin Cancer Res 2013 Oct 15;19(20):5675-85. Epub 2013 Aug 15.

Authors' Affiliations: University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Brisbane, Australia; Department of Haematology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Australia; Department of Neurosurgery, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; and Griffith Health Institute and School of Medical Sciences, Griffith University, Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Purpose: Despite advances in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the disease remains incurable with standard therapies and relapse is inevitable. A growing body of evidence indicates that alterations in the adhesion properties of neoplastic cells play a pivotal role in the development and progression of CLL.

Experimental Design: The expression of 71 cell surface molecules was examined on CLL peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) over 3 weeks in culture. The most highly upregulated marker, CD62L, was examined further for expression on CD5(+)/CD19(+) CLL cells in vitro and in lymph node and bone marrow biopsies. The prosurvival role of CD62L was examined using a functional blocking antibody and therapeutic potential evaluated by comparison with current chemotherapy agents.

Results: Blocking CD62L resulted in apoptosis of CLL cells but not PBMCs from healthy donors suggesting a novel role for CD62L in CLL cell survival. The beneficial effect of coculturing CLL cells with bone marrow stromal cells or endothelial cells does not protect CLL cells from anti-CD62L-related toxicity. Moreover, combining fludarabine or mafosfamide with the anti-CD62L in vitro produced an additive effect both with and without stromal cells.

Conclusion: This is the first reported data showing that blocking the activation and homing marker, CD62L, regulates CLL cell survival in vitro. These data also suggest that therapeutic antibodies against CD62L may provide additional clinical benefit to patients with CLL receiving current standard chemotherapy protocols.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-1037DOI Listing
October 2013

Efficient Biodistribution and Gene Silencing in the Lung epithelium via Intravenous Liposomal Delivery of siRNA.

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 2013 Jun 4;2:e96. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

RNA interference (RNAi) may provide a therapeutic solution to many pulmonary epithelium diseases. However, the main barrier to the clinical use of RNAi remains the lack of efficient delivery vectors. Research has mainly concentrated on the intranasal route of delivery of short interfering RNA (siRNA) effector molecules for the treatment of respiratory diseases. However, this may be complicated in a diseased state due to the increased fluid production and tissue remodeling. Therefore, we investigated our hydration of a freeze-dried matrix (HFDM) formulated liposomes for systemic delivery to the lung epithelium. Here, we show that 45 ± 2% of epithelial murine lung cells receive siRNA delivery upon intravenous (IV) liposomal administration. Furthermore, we demonstrate that liposomal siRNA delivery resulted in targeted gene and protein knockdown throughout the lung, including lung epithelium. Taken together, this is the first description of lung epithelial delivery via cationic liposomes, and provides a proof of concept for the use of IV liposomal RNAi delivery to specifically knockdown targeted genes in the respiratory system. This approach may provide an attractive alternate therapeutic delivery strategy for the treatment of lung epithelium diseases.Molecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids (2013) 2, e96; doi:10.1038/mtna.2013.22; published online 4 June 2013.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mtna.2013.22DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3696903PMC
June 2013

RNA interference for the treatment of papillomavirus disease.

Open Virol J 2012 28;6:204-15. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-induced diseases are a significant burden on our healthcare system and current therapies are not curative. Vaccination provides significant prophylactic protection but effective therapeutic treatments will still be required. RNA interference (RNAi) has great promise in providing highly specific therapies for all HPV diseases yet this promise has not been realised. Here we review the research into RNAi therapy for HPV in vitro and in vivo and examine the various targets and outcomes. We discuss the idea of using RNAi with current treatments and address delivery of RNAi, the major issue holding back clinical adoption. Finally, we present our view of a potential path to the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/1874357901206010204DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3547394PMC
January 2013
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