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Therapeutic Antibody Gene Transfer: An Active Approach to Passive Immunity

  • Lava Therapeutics


Advances in gene transfer approaches are enabling the possibility of applying therapeutic antibodies using DNA. In particular gene transfer in combination with electroporation is promising and can result in generating in vivo antibody concentrations in the low therapeutic range. However, several important problems need to be dealt with before antibody gene transfer can become a valuable supplement to the current therapies. As antibody production following gene transfer is difficult to control, the danger of inducing autoimmune conditions or uncontrollable side effects occurs in cases in which autologous antigens are targeted. It is suggested that the most promising area of application therefore appears to be infectious disease in which heterologous antigens are targeted and concerns for long-term antibody exposure are minimal. Finally, genes encoding fully human antibodies will enhance long-term expression and decrease problems linked to immunogenicity.
Therapeutic Antibody Gene Transfer: An Active
Approach to Passive Immunity
Joost M. Bakker, Wim K. Bleeker, and Paul W.H.I. Parren
Genmab B.V., Yalelaan 60, P.O. Box 85199, 3508 AD Utrecht, The Netherlands
*To whom correspondence and reprint requests should be addressed. Fax: +31 30 2 123 196. E-mail:
Available online 4 August 2004
Advances in gene transfer approaches are enabling the possibility of applying therapeutic
antibodies using DNA. In particular gene transfer in combination with electroporation is promising
and can result in generating in vivo antibody concentrations in the low therapeutic range.
However, several important problems need to be dealt with before antibody gene transfer can
become a valuable supplement to the current therapies. As antibody production following gene
transfer is difficult to control, the danger of inducing autoimmune conditions or uncontrollable side
effects occurs in cases in which autologous antigens are targeted. It is suggested that the most
promising area of application therefore appears to be infectious disease in which heterologous
antigens are targeted and concerns for long-term antibody exposure are minimal. Finally, genes
encoding fully human antibodies will enhance long-term expression and decrease problems linked
to immunogenicity.
In the past 5 years, antibodies have shown the promise to
become the most important class of therapeutic drugs [1].
Unlike any other therapeutic agent, antibodies combine
very high specificity with long half-life and an ability to
interact efficiently with the body’s immune system. The
newest generation of antibodies is fully human and
therefore does not elicit anti-antibody responses in
humans, which are known to limit the efficacy and
usability of antibodies of murine or chimeric origin. To
date, 17 therapeutic monoclonal antibodies are on the
market and are being successfully used for treatment of
diseases, including cancer, inflammation, and infectious
disease (for overview see [1]).
Despite their high efficacy and specificity, some prob-
lems slow down an even wider implementation of anti-
bodies in the practitioner’s arsenal of drugs. One
important limitation is cost; although the costs of devel-
opment of new antibodies are relatively low compared to
small-molecule drugs, the manufacturing of high amounts
of antibody is expensive [2]. For this reason, a lot of
research is being performed to improve efficiency of cells
to produce antibodies, to modify the antibodies to make
them more efficacious [3–5], or to move to production
systems in lower eukaryotes or prokaryotes [6,7].
An alternative approach would be to leave the production
of therapeutic antibodies to the body itself. A multitude
of studies have shown the possibility of in vivo gene
transfer into cells. Currently, adenoviral vectors are being
tested in phase II and III clinical trials for angiogenic or
cancer applications [8]. In vivo administration to mice of
adenoviral vectors expressing monoclonal antibodies has
been effective [9], and adeno-associated virus vectors that
transferred the genes for a broadly neutralizing antibody
against HIV-1 to mice induced significant HIV-1-neutral-
izing antibody titers in the mouse serum [10]. However,
the use of human adenoviruses for in vivo gene therapy is
hampered by the risk of accidental germ-line trans-
mission [11,12] or cancer [13], in addition to antiviral
immune responses [14,15], which may abrogate expres-
sion or induce side effects.
In vivo gene transfer can also be accomplished by use
of nonviral vectors, usually expression plasmids [16].
Nonviral vectors are easily produced and do not seem to
induce specific immune responses. Muscle tissue is most
often used as target tissue for transfection, because
muscle tissue is well vascularized and easily accessible,
and myocytes are long-lived cells. Intramuscular injec-
tion of naked plasmid DNA results in transfection of a
MOLECULAR THERAPY Vol. 10, No. 3, September 2004
Copyright C The American Society of Gene Therapy
small percentage of myocytes, although to date the
mechanism explaining the uptake of DNA from the
extracellular space into the cell nucleus remains unclear
[16]. Using this approach, plasmid DNA encoding cyto-
kines or cytokine/IgG1 chimeric proteins has been
introduced in vivo and has positively influenced (auto-
immune) disease outcome in several animal models [17–
23]. However, transfection efficiency remained low, with
serum protein levels within the 0.1–10 ng/ml range. A
method to increase efficiency may be via so-called intra-
vascular delivery in which increased gene delivery and
expression levels are achieved by inducing a short-lived
transient high pressure in the veins [24–26]. Special
blood-pressure cuffs that may facilitate localized uptake
by temporarily increasing vascular pressure might be
applicable for humans for this type of gene delivery [27].
Increased efficiency is to be expected from two other
techniques in which delivery of DNA is improved by use
of chemical carriers—cationic polymers or lipids—or via a
physical approach—gene gun delivery or electroporation
[28,29]. Electroporation is especially regarded as an
interesting technique for nonviral gene delivery [30,31].
With electroporation, pulsed electrical currents are
applied to a local tissue area to enhance cell permeability,
resulting in gene transfer across the membrane. Research
in the past 5 years has shown that in vivo gene delivery
can be 10–100 times more efficient with electroporation
than without [32–35]. In the field of oncology, electro-
poration or electrochemotherapy in combination with
bleomycin is promising in the treatment of cutaneous
and subcutaneous tumors [36], with several clinical phase
II trials under way [37].
Gene transfer of proteins by electroporation is still in a
preclinical phase, but seems to be promising. For exam-
ple, in a recent paper by Zhou et al., plasmids encoding a
murine soluble B7.1:IgG1 fusion protein were injected
intramuscularly into C57/BL6 mice, followed by electro-
poration [38]. This fusion protein is thought to enhance
immune effector functions, resulting in enhanced tumor
cell killing. After five treatments (100 Ag plasmid per
injection) with this plasmid, together with a plasmid
encoding the carcinoembryonic antigen, increased kill-
ing of tumor cells was indeed observed. Fusion protein
levels rose to approximately 1 Ag/ml, as measured
immediately after the last treatment.
In an elegant study by Kim et al., plasmids encoding
a human soluble TNF receptor:Fc fusion protein were
transferred to murine muscle by electroporation [39].
Mice (DBA/1) did not show long-term enhancement of
serum protein levels (approximately 7–10 days, with a
maximum of 2.3 ng/ml), probably due to the use of
human fusion proteins. The authors did detect recombi-
nant protein in knee joints, 5 days after electroporation.
Severity of collagen-induced arthritis was attenuated in
treated mice, as well as disease severity, synovitis, and
cartilage erosion. Electroporation also led to reduced IL-
12 and IL-1h protein levels in diseased ankle joints.
With respect to this latter finding, studies have shown
that site-specific injection of genes and subsequent
electroporation may prove useful in diseases such as
rheumatoid arthritis. To illustrate this point, a reporter
gene was injected into rat joints by intra-articular
injection [40]. Up to 40% of cells remained transfected
at 2 months following treatment. Not only joints can be
used as targets for electrogene therapy, but also liver and
frequently targeted for this type of treatment [40–42].
Currently, studies are being performed to increase
further the efficacy of DNA vaccination by electro-
poration [43–46].
Experiments in which cells are transfected with immu-
noglobulin genes in vitro have been performed for over
20 years [47,48], but in two recent studies, plasmid DNA
was used to transfect muscle cells with immunoglobulin
genes in vivo. In one study, the authors made use of two
expression vectors for Ig H-chain genes (pLNOH2) and
L-chain genes (pLNOn), encoding murine MHC class II
antibodies [49]. After a single injection of naked plasmid
DNA into C57/BL6 mice, electroporation was applied to
the muscle. Antibodies of correct specificity were
detected in the serum. The immune-competent mice
developed antibody responses against xenogeneic
(human) parts of the antibodies, which markedly
reduced the persistence in plasma. However, when the
authors used plasmids coding for a fully murine anti-IgD
antibody, plasma concentrations were observed to build
up to 800 ng/ml in the course of 3 weeks, to decline
gradually thereafter over a 3-month period to 400 ng/ml
and to persist at that level for more than 7 months. Also
sheep were found to produce antibodies after electro-
poration, indicating that production can also be
achieved in larger animals. Importantly, in sheep (30
kg) relatively low amounts of DNA were required to
obtain significant monoclonal antibody production, and
electroporation with 100 or 200 Ag of DNA yielded
about the same antibody plasma levels as observed in
mice using the same amount of DNA (I. Mathiesen,
personal communication).
In another approach, antibody expression was con-
trolled by an inducible promoter (under the control of
the bacterial tetracycline operator) [34,50]. In this way,
antibody production was negatively regulated by addi-
tion of doxycycline. Indeed, adding doxycycline to the
drinking water on day 42 after electroporation led to
diminished antibody production. Removing doxycycline
MOLECULAR THERAPY Vol. 10, No. 3, September 2004
Copyright C The American Society of Gene Therapy
from the water again increased antibody production [50].
Maximum plasma mouse IgG2a/n anti-human thyroglo-
bulin concentrations between 800 and 1500 ng/ml were
reached after about 3 weeks. Although also in this study
expression was observed for more than 6 months, plasma
levels were low compared to a study in which a
recombinant adeno-associated vector was used for anti-
body gene transfer in immune-deficient mice [10]. In the
latter study the plasma concentrations of an HIV-neu-
tralizing human IgG1 monoclonal antibody continued to
rise in the course of 3 months up to 4 to 6 Ag/ml. This
suggests that by use of electroporation repeated admin-
istrations will be required to obtain prolonged therapeu-
tic antibody levels.
In summary, long-term antibody production can be
achieved by combining DNA immunization and electro-
poration. It is evident, however, that it is essential to
express a syngeneic antibody, as immune responses
against heterologous parts develop quickly, thus limiting
the buildup of antibody serum levels.
Before discussing whether plasma antibody levels
required for therapy can be achieved via gene transfer
in more detail, we will first take a closer look at the
potential mechanisms of action of therapeutic antibodies
and the required dose levels obtained by passive antibody
The currently approved monoclonal antibodies are
used for widely varying clinical conditions, including
transplant rejection, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and
prevention of viral infection. These therapeutic anti-
bodies may exert their actions in several different ways
[51]. The primary biological role of antibodies is to
protect the body from invading micro-organisms via
opsonization and engagement of immune effector
systems, such as complement and Fc-receptor-bearing
cells. This may also be an important mechanism of
action of therapeutic antibodies that coat their target
cells, like CD52-specific antibodies in the treatment of
chronic lymphocytic leukemia [52] or anti-HER2/neu in
the treatment of breast cancer [53]. However, it is
becoming increasingly clear that an important feature
of many successful therapeutic antibodies is that they
can also interfere with signaling. Therapeutic antibodies
may block the activity of a growth factor, cytokine, or
other soluble mediator by binding directly to the soluble
factor itself or to its receptor. Similarly, antibodies can
prevent cell–cell cross talk by blocking receptor–ligand
interactions. This mechanism is important, for example,
for antibodies against cytokines, like anti-TNFa [54]and
IL-15 [55], or antibodies against growth factor receptors,
like anti-EGFR ([56]; Bleeker et al., [56a]). Finally, anti-
bodies may act by cross-linking the target molecules,
which in the case of targeting membrane receptors, may
activate signaling leading to cell activation, apoptosis, or
internalization of the receptor.
Generally speaking, the dose–effect relationship for
inhibition of signaling will correspond to the binding
curve of the antibody to the target molecule. However,
this is different for immune effector functions, which
may already become fully engaged at low antibody
occupancy levels of the target. For engagement of
immune effector systems a certain number of antibodies
are required in the proper arrangement for effective
interaction with either soluble C1q or Fc receptors on
effector cells. Maximum engagement might then already
occur before maximal antibody binding is achieved. This
is unlike blockade in ligand–receptor interactions, which
is not expected to be optimal before most target
molecules are occupied by the antibody. For most
therapeutic antibodies maximum binding occurs at
concentrations on the order of 1–10 Ag/ml, depending
on the affinity of the antibody in question and on its
binding valency. It should be taken into account that
most monoclonal antibodies are supposed to exert their
effect in the interstitial space where IgG concentrations
are on average two- to threefold below the plasma
concentration and even lower in solid tumors. This
means that for most antibodies plasma levels above 3–30
Ag/ml may be required for therapeutic efficacy. This level
is consistent with literature data from clinical studies
evaluating the efficacy of therapeutic antibodies. Kovarik
et al. [57] assessed the immunodynamics of basiliximab
(anti-CD25) in pediatric kidney allograft patients and
concluded that patients should receive two doses of 1
mg/kg to obtain plasma concentrations above 1 Ag/ml to
ensure the prolonged CD25 saturation needed for
prevention of rejection. Similarly, in the treatment of
rejections, muronomab-CD3 (Orthoclone) is given in
daily doses of 5 mg for 10–14 days [58]. Leyland-Jones et
al. [59] administered trastuzumab (anti-HER2/neu) to
breast cancer patients with multiple doses of about 8
mg/kg, which resulted in trough levels in plasma above
20 Ag/ml. St. Clair et al. [60] investigated the relationship
of serum infliximab (anti-TNFa ) concentrations to clin-
ical improvement in rheumatoid arthritis patients and
concluded that trough serum levels of infliximab main-
tained above 10 Ag/ml may approximate the best
possible efficacy of infliximab therapy. For palivizumab
(anti-respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)) a minimum
plasma level of 40 Ag/ml is targeted to protect at-risk
infants against RSV infections [61]. Maloney evaluated
the effect of rituximab (anti-CD20) in patients with
relapsed B cell lymphoma and concluded that optimal
efficacy was achieved at multiple doses of 375 mg/m
which results in trough plasma levels above 100 Ag/ml
[62]. In contrast, Morris et al. concluded from a study on
the use of alemtuzumab (anti-CD52) for donor T cell
depletion in allogeneic stem cell transplantation [63]
that plasma concentrations as low as 0.1 Ag/ml were
MOLECULAR THERAPY Vol. 10, No. 3, September 2004
Copyright C The American Society of Gene Therapy
effective. They explained this result by the fact that the
lympholytic action relies mainly on antibody-dependent
cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), which does not seem to
require full saturation of the membrane target mole-
cules. This is consistent with our own preclinical
observations on a novel human anti-EGFR monoclonal
antibody that has anti-cancer effects both by interfering
with EGFR signaling and by inducing ADCC (Bleeker et
al., [56a]). We observed that ADCC induction already
may occur at less than 1–5% receptor occupancy,
whereas complete saturation is needed for maximal
receptor blockade.
The reported antibody levels achievable by gene transfer
were generated in mouse experiments and cannot be
simply transferred to humans. Therefore, we did some
pharmacokinetic modeling to estimate the production
levels underlying the observed plasma concentrations
and to extrapolate the mouse results to humans. By
performing simulations in a two-compartment model
adapted to IgG kinetics, which has been previously
described [64], we estimated that for mice a plasma level
of 1 Ag/ml corresponds to an IgG production of about 25
Ag/kg per day (see Fig. 1). Assuming the same production
level per kilogram of body weight we can expect higher
plasma levels in humans because of the five times longer
half-life of 21 days compared to 4 days for normal
laboratory mice [65,66]. The simulation further makes
clear that, assuming constant production, the concen-
tration gradually increases until a steady state is reached
between production and elimination. For mice this
process takes 1 to 2 weeks, but for humans, due to the
longer half-life, maximum levels will not be reached
before several months. Taking all data together, and
provided that the production level in humans can be
scaled up in proportion, we can expect that gene transfer
by in vivo electroporation can generate monoclonal
antibody concentrations in the low therapeutic range,
although buildup to steady-state concentrations may take
significant time. This means that this approach could be
effective for selected therapeutic antibodies in certain
There are several important concerns about mAb gene
transfer that might hinder the fast introduction of this
technique into clinical practice. The major concern is
whether the IgG production will be sufficient to create
therapeutically effective plasma levels. Because of the
relatively slow buildup of antibody plasma levels, the
plasma concentrations remain low for prolonged peri-
ods of time. For most therapies, fast buildup is
required, and therefore administration of protein is
preferred. For maintenance therapy, one could switch
to gene transfer after protein has been administered
and buildup of antibody plasma levels has been
Another concern about protein expression by gene
transfer might be the relative unpredictability of the
plasma levels that will be attained. First, concentrations
may be below or above the targeted therapeutic value. In
particular, the possibility of too high plasma concen-
trations is a major problem for therapy with hormones,
like insulin or erythropoietin. This has stimulated the
development of vectors with regulatory elements [34],
which has also been shown feasible for antibodies [50].
However, for most therapeutic antibodies toxicity is
related directly to binding to the target, which does not
increase above a certain dose level. This property of
monoclonal antibodies is, for example, becoming clear in
the application of antibodies in the field of cancer
therapy in which, traditionally, phase I clinical develop-
ment of chemotherapeutic agents is primarily directed on
the determination of the maximum tolerated dose [67].
Due to their specificity, anti-cancer antibodies are gene-
rally less toxic at clinically effective doses, and impor-
tantly, above saturating doses neither therapeutic nor
chronic exposure, even to moderate side effects, however,
would be undesirable.
Second, the longevity of antibody production is
difficult to control. On the one hand, long-term
expression might be needed. To date, loss of expression
occurs over time, which might be due to promoter
inactivation via methylation, apoptosis, or immune
responses generated against prokaryotic plasmid sequen-
FIG. 1. Simulation of the plasma monoclonal antibody (mAb) concentrations
for mice and humans. Assumed is an IgG mAb production from day 0 to day
40 at a level of 25 Ag/kg per day. The mAb was assumed to be delivered into
the interstitial space and redistributed into the plasma compartment and from
there 50% into the interstitial space. Elimination from the plasma compart-
ment was set for mouse to a half-life of 4 days, for humans to a half-life of 21
MOLECULAR THERAPY Vol. 10, No. 3, September 2004
Copyright C The American Society of Gene Therapy
ces [30]. On the other hand, potential anti-tumor
targets such as CD20 and EGFR are also expressed on
healthy cells and production of antibodies that is too
prolonged might negatively affect these healthy cells for
too long. In the case of anti-TNFa therapy, as in
inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis
[68,69], long-term blockade is associated with oppor-
tunistic infections, including infections caused by
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which may necessitate inter-
ruption of treatment until the infection has been
effectively treated [70,71]. With antibody gene transfer
by electroporation such a blockade might persist for too
long a period and could then be potentially life-threat-
ening. Therefore, if application of antibodies against
autoantigens is contemplated, research on the develop-
ment of vectors with regulatory elements seems to be
Currently, the long-term lack of control of expression
makes the application of therapeutic antibody gene
transfer in diseases such as cancer or inflammatory
diseases unlikely. The uncertainty of prolonged expo-
sure of healthy cells expressing the antibody target
seems too great. The most promising area of application
therefore appears to be infectious disease in which
heterologous antigens are targeted and concerns for
long-term antibody exposure are minimal. It seems
feasible that immunity against pathogens could be
induced by transferring the genes of neutralizing or
protective antibodies. Antibody-mediated immunity
could thus also be obtained against viruses such as
HIV-1 for which currently no vaccines are available, but
panels of potently neutralizing antibodies exist [72,73].
Antibody gene transfer would further simplify the
development of therapeutic antibody cocktails, which
are often considered essential for targeting genetically
diverse or rapidly mutating pathogens. The develop-
ment of antibody cocktails using conventional technol-
regulatory hurdles.
Advances in gene-transfer approaches are enabling the
possibility of applying therapeutic antibodies using DNA.
In particular gene transfer in combination with electro-
poration is promising and can result in generating in vivo
antibody concentrations in the low therapeutic range.
Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies are primarily avail-
able for the treatment of cancer and inflammation
conditions. The use of antibody gene transfer in such
conditions is currently unlikely as the antibodies used
often recognize self-antigens. As antibody production
following gene transfer is difficult to control, the danger
of inducing autoimmune conditions or uncontrollable
side effects occurs. Promising applications might exist in
infectious diseases for which this technology makes it
possible to immunize with a focused antibody response
consisting of well-defined antibodies with potent activity
against the intended pathogen; a difficult feature to
attain even with successful vaccines. To enable long-term
expression and avoid problems linked to immunogenic-
ity, only genes encoding fully human antibodies should
be transferred.
We thank Dennis Burton, Iacob Mathiesen, and Jan van de Winkel for helpful
comments on the manuscript.
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MOLECULAR THERAPY Vol. 10, No. 3, September 2004
Copyright C The American Society of Gene Therapy
... Most mAb therapy applications utilize direct protein delivery [74]. However, mAbs can be paired with virus-mediated gene transfer, e.g., using adeno-associated (AAV) or lentiviral (LV) vectors or a non-viral delivery route by RNA or DNA expression plasmids [75]. In the case of non-direct delivery (viruses, plasmids), antibody sequences will be inserted and administered to the host cell, and antibody production will occur [76] (Figure 4). ...
... Monoclonal antibody therapies have been used successfully to treat many immune-related diseases, such as cancer and inflammatory diseases [81]. Clinical trials are ongoing for the use of mAbs in processes such as transplant rejection, rheumatoid arthritis, and prevention of viral infection [75]. The use of mAbs in this respect has been studied since the 1990s and has seen much success, and is frequently used successfully in drugs such as infliximab [82]. ...
... Monoclonal antibody therapies have been used successfully to treat many immunerelated diseases, such as cancer and inflammatory diseases [81]. Clinical trials are ongoing for the use of mAbs in processes such as transplant rejection, rheumatoid arthritis, and prevention of viral infection [75]. The use of mAbs in this respect has been studied since the 1990s and has seen much success, and is frequently used successfully in drugs such as infliximab [82]. ...
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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has a critical unmet medical need. The consensus around the amyloid cascade hypothesis has been guiding pre-clinical and clinical research to focus mainly on targeting beta-amyloid for treating AD. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the clinical trials have repeatedly failed, prompting the urgent need to refocus on other targets and shifting the paradigm of AD drug development towards precision medicine. One such emerging target is apolipoprotein E (APOE), identified nearly 30 years ago as one of the strongest and most reproduceable genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). An exploration of APOE as a new therapeutic culprit has produced some very encouraging results, proving that the protein holds promise in the context of LOAD therapies. Here, we review the strategies to target APOE based on state-of-the-art technologies such as antisense oligonucleotides, monoclonal antibodies, and gene/base editing. We discuss the potential of these initiatives in advancing the development of novel precision medicine therapies to LOAD.
... [7,8] When production of large multisubunit proteins like antibodies is aimed, multiple genes coding for different subunits must be simultaneously delivered to the same cell. [9] The same applies for the expression of enzyme complexes. [10] Also (re)programming cells fate requires combinatorial expression of transcription factors. ...
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Maximizing the efficiency of nanocarrier-mediated co-delivery of genes for co-expression in the same cell is critical for many applications. Strategies to maximize co-delivery of nucleic acids (NA) focused largely on carrier systems, with little attention towards payload composition itself. Here, we investigated the effects of different payload designs: co-delivery of two individual “monocistronic” NAs versus a single bicistronic NA comprising two genes separated by a 2A self-cleavage site. Unexpectedly, co-delivery via the monocistronic design resulted in a higher percentage of co-expressing cells, while predictive co-expression via the bicistronic design remained elusive. Our results will aid the application-dependent selection of the optimal methodology for co-delivery of genes. Graphical abstract
... Recent advances and consideration of the prospects for their application provide better methods of diabetic treatment, primarily for the prevention and cure of T2DM. However, direct intravenous injection of these systems limited further application of gene delivery regarding serum stability, immunogenicity, low transfection efficiency and high costs, encouraging researchers to focus on alternative systems [8,[14][15][16][17][18][19][20]. ...
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Background Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic progressive metabolic disease that involves uncontrolled elevation of blood glucose levels. Among various therapeutic approaches, GLP-1 prevents type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients from experiencing hyperglycemic episodes. However, the short half-life (< 5 min) and rapid clearance of GLP-1 often limits its therapeutic use. Here, we developed an oral GLP-1 gene delivery system to achieve an extended antidiabetic effect. Methods Human IgG1 (hIgG1)-Fc-Arg/pDNA complexes were prepared by an electrostatic complexation of the expression plasmid with various ratios of the positively modified Fc fragments of an antibody (hIgG1-Fc-Arg) having a targeting ability to FcRn receptor. The shape and size of the complexes were examined by atomic force and field emission electron microscope. The stability of the complexes was tested in simulated gastrointestinal pH and physiological serum condition. Cellular uptake, transport, and toxicity of the complexes were tested in the Caco-2 cells. Biodistribution and antidiabetic effect of the complexes were observed in either Balb/c mice or Lepdb/db mice. Results A 50/1 ratio of the hIgG1-Fc-Arg/pDNA produced a complex structure having approximately 40 ~ 60 nm size and also demonstrated protection of pDNA in the complex from the physiological pH and serum conditions. Cellular uptake and transport of the complex were demonstrated in Caco-2 cells having FcRn receptor expression and forming the monolayer-polarized structure. The cellular toxicity of both delivery vehicle and the complex revealed their minimal toxicity comparable with nontoxicity of a commercial transfection reagent. Biodistribution of the complex showed the detectable distribution of the complex in the most parts of gastrointestinal tract due to ubiquitous expression of the FcRn receptors. An in vivo type 2 diabetes treatment study of oral administration of hIgG1-Fc-9Arg/pGLP-1 complexes showed absorption and expression in GI tract of either Balb/c mice or Lepdb/db mice. Conclusion In this study, we developed an oral GLP-1 gene delivery system on the platform of cationic hIgG1-Fc-9Arg. Prolonged t1/2, less immunoactivity, and better bioactivities of hIgG-Fc-9Arg/pGLP-1 complexes appeared to be a promising approach to achieve potent treatment of type 2 diabetes treatment. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s40824-018-0129-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
... The plasma levels of CTB in Adc68-CTB treated mice were above 30 mg/mL, which was within the effective therapeutic limits of 3-30 mg/mL. 58 Applying the same strategy, other effective monoclonal antibodies such as the PD-1 antibody, PD-L1 antibody, CTLA-4 antibody, etc. can be incorporated by AdCs and employed for efficient, low-cost clinical cancer treatment. Thus, anti-tumor therapeutic antibodies mediated by AdC might be considered as a novel strategy for cancer immunotherapy. ...
Adenoviral vector has been employed as one of the most efficient means against infectious diseases and cancer. It can be genetically modified and armed with foreign antigens to elicit specific antibody responses and T cell responses in hosts as well as engineered to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. The chimpanzee adenovirus-based vector is one kind of novel vaccine carriers whose unique features and non-reactivity to pre-existing human adenovirus neutralizing antibodies makes it an outstanding candidate for vaccine research and development. Here, we review the different strategies for constructing chimpanzee adenoviral vectors and their applications in recent clinical trials and also discuss the oncolytic virotherapy and immunotherapy based on chimpanzee adenoviral vectors.
... We therefore reasoned that the anti-EGFR antibody expression induced by AdC68-CTB was already sufficient for therapy. Plasma levels in AdC68-CTB treated mice was above 30µg/ml, which was within effective therapeutic limits (3-30 µg/ ml) [40]. Considering the low prevalence rate of AdC68, we believe AdC68 may be a better choice. ...
Full-text available
Cetuximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody, approved to treat patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for years. It functions by blocking the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) from receiving signals or interacting with other proteins. Although the demand for cetuximab for the treatment of cancer patients in clinics is increasing, the complicated techniques involved and its high cost limit its wide applications. Here, a new, cheaper form of cetuximab was generated for cancer gene therapy. This was achieved by cloning the full-length cetuximab antibody into two serotypes of adenoviral vectors, termed as AdC68-CTB and Hu5-CTB. In vivo studies showed that a single dose of AdC68-CTB or Hu5-CTB induced sustained cetuximab expression and dramatically suppressed tumor growth in NCI-H508- or DiFi-inoculated nude mice. In conclusion, gene therapy using adenovirus expressing full-length cetuximab could be a novel alternative method for the effective treatment of colorectal cancer.
Electroporation is a delivery technique that is gaining popularity among the veterinary community due to its low cost, ease of application, and flexibility. It combines the administration of pharmaceutical compounds such as chemotherapy agents, antisense, and plasmids to the application of permeabilizing pulses. This chapter reviews the preclinical and clinical results obtained, both for humans and companion animals, through gene-electrotransfer (GET) in cancer treatment. Recent delivery techniques such as the gene gun and in vivo electroporation (EP) have completely changed the efficiency of DNA vaccines in humans. The two central factors are most likely the increased DNA uptake due to the transient membrane destabilization and the local tissue damage is acting as an adjuvant. To date, several studies in humans have used in vivo EP to deliver DNA. Some of these results have been quite promising, with strong T-cell responses and/or therapeutic effects on cancer progression. The development of vaccines against cancer in human oncology is gaining increasing importance as a therapeutic approach, which can complement standard chemotherapy and/or targeted therapies to achieve increased survival and improved quality of life for patients. In the specialty of veterinary oncology, there is an unmet need for additional therapeutic interventions such as immunotherapy, because of the increased demand of owners seeking advanced options for cancer treatment for their pet, so the evaluation of genetic cancer vaccines and delivery technologies in pet dogs is gaining increasing interest both as a predictive model for human clinical trials and also as tools to provide novel therapeutic opportunities in veterinary oncology. In addition, since the role of therapeutics against naturally occurring cancers in domestic animals is an attractive prelude to human studies and drug approvals, several veterinary trials are discussed in this chapter. To this end, we expect that veterinary oncology research will follow human medicine, and many tumor types will be investigated as targets for tumor vaccination.
The UK Respiratory Gene Therapy Consortium (GTC) The GTC was formed in 2001 from three groups at the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford and Imperial College, London to explore gene therapy as a therapeutic option for people with cystic fibrosis (CF)1. The gene responsible for CF, Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CFTR), was identified in 19892 and over 2000 mutations are now known3, typically classified into six groups4. Whilst considerable progress has been made with this mutation-agnostic approach, gene therapy is not yet a clinical reality. In parallel, mutation-specific, small molecule CFTR modulator therapy has now demonstrated substantial clinical efficacy5. Here, we briefly summarise the opinions of the GTC on navigating this evolving terrain, as well as noting some opportunities for gene therapy in other respiratory diseases.
The term bispecific antibody (bsAb) is used to describe a large family of molecules designed to recognize two different epitopes or antigens. BsAbs come in many formats, ranging from relatively small proteins, merely consisting of two linked antigen-binding fragments, to large immunoglobulin G (IgG)-like molecules with additional domains attached. An attractive bsAb feature is their potential for novel functionalities — that is, activities that do not exist in mixtures of the parental or reference antibodies. In these so-called obligate bsAbs, the physical linkage of the two binding specificities creates a dependency that can be temporal, with binding events occurring sequentially, or spatial, with binding events occurring simultaneously, such as in linking an effector to a target cell. To date, more than 20 different commercialized technology platforms are available for bsAb creation and development, 2 bsAbs are marketed and over 85 are in clinical development. Here, we review the current bsAb landscape from a mechanistic perspective, including a comprehensive overview of the pipeline. Bispecific antibodies — a large family of molecules that are designed to recognize two different epitopes or antigens — come in many formats and can have the potential for novel functionalities that are not provided by mixtures of monoclonal antibodies. This article reviews the current bispecific antibody landscape from a mechanistic perspective, including a comprehensive overview of the pipeline.
Introduction: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to date remains one of the most notorious viruses mankind has ever faced. Despite enormous investments in HIV research for more than 30 years an effective cure for HIV has been elusive. Areas covered: Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) suppresses active viral replication, but is not able to eliminate the virus completely due to stable integration of HIV inside the host genome of infected cells and the establishment of a latent reservoir, that is insensitive to cART. Nevertheless, this latent HIV reservoir is fully capable to refuel viral replication when treatment is stopped, creating a major obstacle towards a cure for HIV. Several gene therapy approaches ranging from the generation of HIV resistant CD4+ T cells to the eradication of HIV infected cells by immune cell engineering are currently under pre-clinical and clinical investigation and may present a promising road to a cure. In this review, we focus on the status and the prospects of gene therapy strategies to cure/eradicate HIV. Expert commentary: Recent advances in gene therapy for oncology and infectious diseases indicate that gene therapy may be a feasible and very potent cure strategy, and therefore a potential game changer in the search for an effective HIV cure.
Antibodies, a main component of the immune response, have been recognized, more than a century ago, for their proven therapeutic value. The hybridoma fusion technology, proposed in the early 1970s, for the first time gave easy access to the production and engineering of murine monoclonal antibodies. One possible explanation for the great commercial success of therapeutic antibodies is the proper management of intellectual property and accurate designation of strategies for protecting antibodies or antibody-derived products. Biosimilars offer a highly attractive mechanism for reducing the cost of medical care and thus should be considered positively. The European Union (EU) has been the first to establish a regulatory framework for marketing authorization application (MAA) and has named 'copycat' biotherapeutic products with the term biosimilars, a term also recently adopted by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
Full-text available
Among the nonviral techniques for gene transfer in vivo, the direct injection of plasmid DNA into muscle is simple, inexpensive, and safe. Applications of this method have been limited by the relatively low expression levels of the transferred gene. We investigated the applicability of in vivo electroporation for gene transfer into muscle, using plasmid DNA expressing interleukin-5 (IL-5) as the vector. The tibialis anterior muscles of mice were injected with the plasmid DNA, and then a pair of electrode needles were inserted into the DNA injection site to deliver electric pulses. Five days later, the serum IL-5 levels were assayed. Mice that did not receive electroporation had serum levels of 0.2 ng/ml. Electroporation enhanced the levels to over 20 ng/ml. Histochemical analysis of muscles injected with a lacZ expression plasmid showed that in vivo electroporation increased both the number of muscle fibers taking up plasmid DNA and the copy number of plasmids introduced into the cells. These results demonstrate that gene transfer into muscle by electroporation in vivo is more efficient than simple intramuscular DNA injection.
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We show that an electric treatment in the form of high-frequency, low-voltage electric pulses can increase more than 100-fold the production and secretion of a recombinant protein from mouse skeletal muscle. Therapeutical erythopoietin (EPO) levels were achieved in mice with a single injection of as little as 1 μg of plasmid DNA, and the increase in hematocrit after EPO production was stable and long-lasting. Pharmacological regulation through a tetracycline-inducible promoter allowed regulation of serum EPO and hematocrit levels. Tissue damage after stimulation was transient. The method described thus provides a potentially safe and low-cost treatment for serum protein deficiencies.
Over the last decade a new cancer treatment modality, electrochemotherapy, has emerged. By using short, intense electric pulses that surpass the capacitance of the cell membrane, permeabilization can occur (electroporation). Thus, molecules that are otherwise non-permeant can gain direct access to the cytosol of cells in the treated area.A highly toxic molecule that does not usually pass the membrane barrier is the hydrophilic drug bleomycin. Once inside the cell, bleomycin acts as an enzyme creating single- and double-strand DMA-breaks. The cytotoxicity of bleomycin can be augmented several 100-fold by electroporation. Drug delivery by electroporation has been in experimental use for cancer treatment since 1991.This article reviews 11 studies of electrochemotherapy of malignant cutaneous or subcutaneous lesions, e.g., metastases from melanoma, breast or head- and neck cancer. These studies encompass 96 patients with altogether 411 malignant tumours. Electroporation was performed using plate or needle electrodes under local or general anaesthesia. Bleomycin was administered intratumourally or intravenously prior to delivery of electric pulses. The rates of complete response (CR) after once-only treatments were between 9 and 100% depending on the technique used. The treatment was well tolerated and could be performed on an out-patient basis.
Nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice develop insulitis and diabetes through an autoimmune process. Since TGF-β1 down-regulates many immune responses, we hypothesized that TGF-β1 could prevent disease in NOD mice and that there would be several advantages to cytokine delivery by a somatic gene therapy approach. We opted for i.m. injection of a naked plasmid DNA expression vector encoding murine TGF-β1 (pCMV-TGF-β1). Treatment with pCMV-TGF-β1 resulted in the retention and expression of the vector in muscle cells, associated with a considerable elevation in the plasma levels of TGF-β1, that was not observed in control vector-treated mice. The levels of TGF-β1 produced were sufficient to exert immunosuppressive effects. Delayed-type hypersensitivity responses were suppressed, and autoimmunity-prone NOD mice were protected from insulitis and diabetes in models of cyclophosphamide-accelerated and natural course disease. In pCMV-TGF-β1-treated mice, pancreatic IL-12 and IFN-γ mRNA expression was depressed, and the ratio of IFN-γ to IL-4 mRNA was decreased, as determined by semiquantitative reverse-transcription PCR. In contrast, NOD mice injected with a vector encoding the proinflammatory cytokine IFN-γ developed diabetes earlier. Intramuscular administration of cytokine-encoding plasmid vectors proved to be an effective method of cytokine delivery in these mice, and altered autoimmune disease expression.
BACKGROUND Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is performed by locally administering a chemotherapeutic agent in combination with electric pulses. Previous clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of ECT. In these initial trials, the drug was administered intravenously, followed by administration of electric pulses directly to the tumor. This study was initiated to determine whether an intralesional injection of the drug in combination with electric pulses could provide an improved result. A group of 34 patients was studied.METHODS The dose of intralesional bleomycin was based on tumor volume. This was followed 10 minutes later by 6 or 8 99-μsec pulses of electricity at an amplitude of 1.3 kV/cm. Both the bleomycin and the electric pulses were administered after 1% lidocaine with ephinephrine solution was injected around the treatment site.RESULTSAll patients responded to the treatment. Responses were observed in 142 (99%) of 143 metastatic nodules or primary tumors within 12 weeks, with complete responses observed in 130 (91%) of the nodules. No complete responses were observed in nodules treated with bleomycin only or electric pulses only. Random biopsies confirmed the clinical findings. All patients tolerated the procedure well, and no significant side effects were noted. Muscle contraction was evident during administration of each electric pulse but promptly subsided after the pulse.CONCLUSIONSECT was shown to be an effective local treatment for cutaneous malignancies. The results suggest that ECT may have a tissue-sparing effect and result in minimal scarring. ECT may be a suitable alternative therapy for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma, local or regional recurrent melanoma, and other skin cancers. Cancer 1998;83:148-157. © 1998 American Cancer Society.
In vivo targeted gene transfer by non-viral vectors is subjected to anatomical constraints depending on the route of administration. Transfection efficiency and gene expression in vivo using non-viral vectors is also relatively low. We report that in vivo electropermeabilization of the liver tissue of rats in the presence of genes encoding luciferase or β-galactosidase resulted in the strong expression of these genetic markers in rat liver cells. About 30–40% of the rat liver cells electroporated expressed the β-galactosidase genetic marker 48 h after electroporation. The marker expression was also detected at least 21 days after transfection at about 5% of the level 48 h after electroporation. The results indicate that gene transfer by electroporation in vivo may avoid anatomical constraints and low transfection efficiency.
We previously demonstrated that electroporation-mediated cytokine gene delivery into muscle is an effective approach for long-term systemic delivery of cytokines. Here we show that hydrodynamics-based gene delivery into mice by intravenous administration of naked plasmid DNA is a more efficient procedure for expressing cytokines in vivo. A large volume of Ringer's solution containing an interleukin-10 (IL-10) expression plasmid pCAGGS-IL10 was rapidly injected into the tail vein of mice. Serum IL-10 levels increased in a dose-dependent manner with a saturation level (50.8 ± 12.1 μg/ml) 10,000-fold higher than we obtained by the electroporation-mediated method. High levels of serum IL-10 were sustained for at least 2 weeks following a single injection. These results demonstrate that hydrodynamics-based gene delivery could induce sustained high-level expression of cytokines, which would be useful for further studies of cytokine function in vivo and the development of novel immunotherapeutic strategies for systemic cytokine gene therapy.
The physical phenomenon of electroporation has been successfully exploited in vitro for the delivery of genes, drugs, and other molecules with increasing frequency over the past two decades. This type of electrically mediated delivery has been translated into an in vivo setting in more recent years with a focus on therapeutic molecules. One promising area is the delivery of genes as a therapy.Advances in molecular medicine have produced a very large amount of information about genes that translate to therapeutic molecules when expressed in living cells. Current standard methods for transferring genes utilize viruses to deliver DNA into cells. These viral methods have not yielded optimal results in most cases. Therefore, there is an increasing interest in nonviral methods for gene delivery. In vivo electrically mediated gene delivery is an attractive alternative because of the site specific nature of delivery as well as the universal applicability of electroporation. A review of the studies performed to investigate and develop this new gene delivery technology is presented.
A persistent problem in the generation of antigen-specific human monoclonal antibodies is the rarity of appropriate B cells in human blood or splenic tissues. In order to immortalize the rare antigen-specific cells that are available, an electric field-induced cell fusion technique has been shown to markedly increase the fusion efficiency in comparison to polyethylene glycol-induced cell fusion using Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or pokeweed mitogen activated B cells. Fusion efficiency of 10(-3)-10(-4) has been achieved by this process with as low as 1 X 10(6) input EBV-activated B cells. A panel of human monoclonal antibodies to human cytomegalovirus has subsequently been produced using this technique. This improvement should enable wider therapeutic and diagnostic applications of human monoclonal antibodies.