Oncolytic viruses that selectively infect and lyse cancer cells have potential as therapeutic agents. Myxoma virus, a poxvirus that is known to be pathogenic only in rabbits, has not been reported to infect normal tissues in humans or mice. We observed that when recombinant virus was injected directly into the lateral ventricle of the mouse brain, virally encoded red fluorescent protein was expressed in ependymal and subventricular cells. Cells were positive for nestin, a marker of neural stem cells. Rapamycin increased the number of cells expressing the virally encoded protein. However, protein expression was transient. Cells expressing the virally encoded protein did not undergo apoptosis and the ependymal lining remained intact. Myxoma virus appears to be safe when injected into the brain despite the transient expression of virally derived protein in a small population of periventricular cells.


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