Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disease and one of the leading inherited causes of infant mortality. SMA results from insufficient levels of the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein, and studies in animal models of the disease have shown that increasing SMN protein levels ameliorates the disease phenotype. Our group previously identified and optimized a new series of small molecules, with good potency and toxicity profiles and reasonable pharmacokinetics, that were able to increase SMN protein levels in SMA patient–derived cells. We show here that ML372, a representative of this series, almost doubles the half-life of residual SMN protein expressed from the SMN2 locus by blocking its ubiquitination and subsequent degradation by the proteasome. ML372 increased SMN protein levels in muscle, spinal cord, and brain tissue of SMA mice. Importantly, ML372 treatment improved the righting reflex and extended survival of a severe mouse model of SMA. These results demonstrate that slowing SMN degradation by selectively inhibiting its ubiquitination can improve the motor phenotype and lifespan of SMA model mice.
Mahlet B. Abera, Jingbo Xiao, Jonathan Nofziger, Steve Titus, Noel Southall, Wei Zheng, Kasey E. Moritz, Marc Ferrer, Jonathan J. Cherry, Elliot J. Androphy, Amy Wang, Xin Xu, Christopher Austin, Kenneth H. Fischbeck, Juan J. Marugan, Barrington G. Burnett
Clinical monitoring of adoptive T cell transfer (ACT) utilizes serial blood analyses to discern T cell activity. While useful, these data are 1-dimensional and lack spatiotemporal information related to treatment efficacy or toxicity. We utilized a human genetic reporter, somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2), and PET, to quantitatively and longitudinally visualize whole-body T cell distribution and antitumor dynamics using a clinically approved radiotracer. Initial evaluations determined that SSTR2-expressing T cells were detectable at low densities with high sensitivity and specificity. SSTR2-based PET was applied to ACT of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells targeting intercellular adhesion molecule-1, which is overexpressed in anaplastic thyroid tumors. Timely CAR T cell infusions resulted in survival of tumor-bearing mice, while later infusions led to uniform death. Real-time PET imaging revealed biphasic T cell expansion and contraction at tumor sites among survivors, with peak tumor burden preceding peak T cell burden by several days. In contrast, nonsurvivors displayed unrelenting increases in tumor and T cell burden, indicating that tumor growth was outpacing T cell killing. Thus, longitudinal PET imaging of SSTR2-positive ACT dynamics enables prognostic, spatiotemporal monitoring with unprecedented clarity and detail to facilitate comprehensive therapy evaluation with potential for clinical translation.
Yogindra Vedvyas, Enda Shevlin, Marjan Zaman, Irene M. Min, Alejandro Amor-Coarasa, Spencer Park, Susan Park, Keon-Woo Kwon, Turner Smith, Yonghua Luo, Dohyun Kim, Young Kim, Benedict Law, Richard Ting, John Babich, Moonsoo M. Jin
Marc A. Simon, Rebecca R. Vanderpool, Mehdi Nouraie, Timothy N. Bachman, Pamela M. White, Masataka Sugahara, John Gorcsan III, Ed L. Parsley, Mark T. Gladwin
There continues to be a need for immunotherapies to treat type 1 diabetes in the clinic. We previously reported that nondepleting anti-CD4 and -CD8 Ab treatment effectively reverses diabetes in new-onset NOD mice. A key feature of the induction of remission is the egress of the majority of islet-resident T cells. How this occurs is undefined. Herein, the effects of coreceptor therapy on islet T cell retention were investigated. Bivalent Ab binding to CD4 and CD8 blocked TCR signaling and T cell cytokine production, while indirectly downregulating islet chemokine expression. These processes were required for T cell retention, as ectopic IFN-γ or CXCL10 inhibited Ab-mediated T cell purging. Importantly, treatment of humanized mice with nondepleting anti–human CD4 and CD8 Ab similarly reduced tissue-infiltrating human CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. These findings demonstrate that Ab binding of CD4 and CD8 interrupts a feed-forward circuit by suppressing T cell–produced cytokines needed for expression of chemotactic cues, leading to rapid T cell egress from the islets. Coreceptor therapy therefore offers a robust approach to suppress T cell–mediated pathology by purging T cells in an inflammation-dependent manner.
Aaron J. Martin, Matthew Clark, Gregory Gojanovich, Fatima Manzoor, Keith Miller, Douglas E. Kline, Y. Maurice Morillon, Bo Wang, Roland Tisch
Processing by the proprotein convertase furin is believed to be critical for the biological activity of multiple proteins involved in hemostasis, including coagulation factor VIII (FVIII). This belief prompted the retention of the furin recognition motif (amino acids 1645–1648) in the design of B-domain–deleted FVIII (FVIII-BDD) products in current clinical use and in the drug development pipeline, as well as in experimental FVIII gene therapy strategies. Here, we report that processing by furin is in fact deleterious to FVIII-BDD secretion and procoagulant activity. Inhibition of furin increases the secretion and decreases the intracellular retention of FVIII-BDD protein in mammalian cells. Our new variant (FVIII-ΔF), in which this recognition motif is removed, efficiently circumvents furin. FVIII-ΔF demonstrates increased recombinant protein yields, enhanced clotting activity, and higher circulating FVIII levels after adeno-associated viral vector–based liver gene therapy in a murine model of severe hemophilia A (HA) compared with FVIII-BDD. Moreover, we observed an amelioration of the bleeding phenotype in severe HA dogs with sustained therapeutic FVIII levels after FVIII-ΔF gene therapy at a lower vector dose than previously employed in this model. The immunogenicity of FVIII-ΔF did not differ from that of FVIII-BDD as a protein or a gene therapeutic. Thus, contrary to previous suppositions, FVIII variants that can avoid furin processing are likely to have enhanced translational potential for HA therapy.
Joshua I. Siner, Benjamin J. Samelson-Jones, Julie M. Crudele, Robert A. French, Benjamin J. Lee, Shanzhen Zhou, Elizabeth Merricks, Robin Raymer, Timothy C. Nichols, Rodney M. Camire, Valder R. Arruda
Using mice rendered insulin resistant with high fat diets (HFD), we examined blood glucose levels and insulin resistance after i.v. delivery of an adeno-associated virus type 8 encoding murine urocortin 2 (AAV8.UCn2). A single i.v. injection of AAV8.UCn2-normalized blood glucose and glucose disposal within weeks, an effect that lasted for months. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps showed reduced plasma insulin, increased glucose disposal rates, and increased insulin sensitivity following UCn2 gene transfer. Mice with corticotropin-releasing hormone type 2-receptor deletion that were rendered insulin resistant by HFD showed no improvement in glucose disposal after UCn2 gene transfer, indicating that the effect requires UCn2’s cognate receptor. We also demonstrated increased glucose disposal after UCn2 gene transfer in db/db mice, a second model of insulin resistance. UCn2 gene transfer reduced fatty infiltration of the liver in both models of insulin resistance. UCn2 increases Glut4 translocation to the plasma membrane in skeletal myotubes in a manner quantitatively similar to insulin, indicating a mechanism through which UCn2 operates to increase insulin sensitivity. UCn2 gene transfer, in a dose-dependent manner, is insulin sensitizing and effective for months after a single injection. These findings suggest a potential long-term therapy for clinical type-2 diabetes.
Mei Hua Gao, Dimosthenis Giamouridis, N. Chin Lai, Evelyn Walenta, Vivian Almeida Paschoal, Young Chul Kim, Atsushi Miyanohara, Tracy Guo, Min Liao, Li Liu, Zhen Tan, Theodore P. Ciaraldi, Simon Schenk, Aditi Bhargava, Da Young Oh, H. Kirk Hammond
Pirfenidone is a recently approved antifibrotic drug for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Because tuberculosis (TB) is characterized by granulomatous inflammation in conjunction with parenchymal destruction and replacement fibrosis, we sought to determine whether the addition of pirfenidone as an adjunctive, host-directed therapy provides a beneficial effect during antimicrobial treatment of TB. We hypothesized that pirfenidone’s antiinflammatory and antifibrotic properties would reduce inflammatory lung damage and increase antimicrobial drug penetration in granulomas to accelerate treatment response. The effectiveness of adjunctive pirfenidone during TB drug therapy was evaluated using a murine model of chronic TB. Mice treated with standard therapy 2HRZ/4HR (H, isoniazid; R, rifampin; and Z, pyrazinamide) were compared with 2 alternative regimens containing pirfenidone (Pf) (2HRZPf/4HRPf and 2HRZPf/4HR). Contrary to our hypothesis, adjunctive pirfenidone use leads to reduced bacterial clearance and increased relapse rates. This treatment failure is closely associated with the emergence of isoniazid monoresistant bacilli, increased cavitation, and significant lung pathology. While antifibrotic agents may eventually be used as part of adjunctive host-directed therapy of TB, this study clearly demonstrates that caution must be exercised. Moreover, as pirfenidone becomes more widely used in clinical practice, increased patient monitoring would be required in endemic TB settings.
Bintou A. Ahidjo, Mariama C. Maiga, Elizabeth A. Ihms, Mamoudou Maiga, Alvaro A. Ordonez, Laurene S. Cheung, Sarah Beck, Bruno B. Andrade, Sanjay Jain, William R. Bishai
Emerging knowledge indicates the difficulty in categorizing unusual cystic fibrosis (CF) mutations, with regard to both pathogenic mechanism and theratype. As case in point, we present data concerning P67L mutation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), a defect carried by a small number of individuals with CF and sometimes attributed to a channel conductance abnormality. Findings from our laboratory and others establish that P67L causes protein misfolding, disrupts maturation, confers gating defects, is thermally stable, and exhibits near normal conductance. These results provide one framework by which rare CF alleles such as P67L can be more comprehensively profiled vis-à-vis molecular pathogenesis. We also demonstrate that emerging CF treatments — ivacaftor and lumacaftor — can mediate pronounced pharmacologic activation of P67L CFTR. Infrequent CF alleles are often improperly characterized, in part, due to the small numbers of patients involved. Moreover, access to new personalized treatments among patients with ultra-orphan genotypes has been limited by difficulty arranging phase III clinical trials, and off-label prescribing has been impaired by high drug cost and difficulty arranging third party reimbursement. Rare CFTR mutations such as P67L are emblematic of the challenges to “precision” medicine, including use of the best available mechanistic knowledge to treat patients with unusual forms of disease.
Carleen M. Sabusap, Wei Wang, Carmel M. McNicholas, W. Joon Chung, Lianwu Fu, Hui Wen, Marina Mazur, Kevin L. Kirk, James F. Collawn, Jeong S. Hong, Eric J. Sorscher
Microglia and monocytes play important roles in regulating brain remyelination. We developed DUOC-01, a cell therapy product intended for treatment of demyelinating diseases, from banked human umbilical cord blood (CB) mononuclear cells. Immunodepletion and selection studies demonstrated that DUOC-01 cells are derived from CB CD14+ monocytes. We compared the ability of freshly isolated CB CD14+ monocytes and DUOC-01 cells to accelerate remyelination of the brains of NOD/SCID/IL2Rγnull mice following cuprizone feeding–mediated demyelination. The corpus callosum of mice intracranially injected with DUOC-01 showed enhanced myelination, a higher proportion of fully myelinated axons, decreased gliosis and cellular infiltration, and more proliferating oligodendrocyte lineage cells than those of mice receiving excipient. Uncultured CB CD14+ monocytes also accelerated remyelination, but to a significantly lesser extent than DUOC-01 cells. Microarray analysis, quantitative PCR studies, Western blotting, and flow cytometry demonstrated that expression of factors that promote remyelination including PDGF-AA, stem cell factor, IGF1, MMP9, MMP12, and triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 were upregulated in DUOC-01 compared to CB CD14+ monocytes. Collectively, our results show that DUOC-01 accelerates brain remyelination by multiple mechanisms and could be beneficial in treating demyelinating conditions.
Arjun Saha, Susan Buntz, Paula Scotland, Li Xu, Pamela Noeldner, Sachit Patel, Amy Wollish, Aruni Gunaratne, Tracy Gentry, Jesse Troy, Glenn K. Matsushima, Joanne Kurtzberg, Andrew E. Balber
Current methods of drug screening in human blood focus on the immediate products of the affected pathway and mostly rely on approaches that lack sensitivity and the capacity for multiplex analysis. We have developed a sensitive and selective method based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry to scan the effect of drugs on the bioactive eicosanoid lipidome in vitro and ex vivo. Using small sample sizes, we can reproducibly measure a broad spectrum of eicosanoids in human blood and capture drug-induced substrate rediversion and unexpected shifts in product formation. Microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1) is an antiinflammatory drug target alternative to COX-1/-2. Contrasting effects of targeting mPGES-1 versus COX-1/-2, due to differential substrate shifts across the lipidome, were observed and can be used to rationalize and evaluate drug combinations. Finally, the in vitro results were extrapolated to ex vivo studies by administration of the COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib, to volunteers, illustrating how this approach can be used to integrate preclinical and clinical studies during drug development.
Liudmila L. Mazaleuskaya, John A. Lawson, Xuanwen Li, Gregory Grant, Clementina Mesaros, Tilo Grosser, Ian A. Blair, Emanuela Ricciotti, Garret A. FitzGerald
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