Biomedicines2014, 2(4), 275-300; doi:10.3390/biomedicines2040275 (registering DOI) - published 31 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is composed of an α-chain and a β-chain, and these chains contain four kringle domains and a serine protease-like structure, respectively. Activation of the HGF–Met pathway evokes dynamic biological responses that support morphogenesis (e.g., epithelial tubulogenesis), regeneration, and the survival of cells and tissues. Characterizations of conditional Met knockout mice have indicated that the HGF–Met pathway plays important roles in regeneration, protection, and homeostasis in various cells and tissues, which includes hepatocytes, renal tubular cells, and neurons. Preclinical studies designed to address the therapeutic significance of HGF have been performed on injury/disease models, including acute tissue injury, chronic fibrosis, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. The promotion of cell growth, survival, migration, and morphogenesis that is associated with extracellular matrix proteolysis are the biological activities that underlie the therapeutic actions of HGF. Recombinant HGF protein and the expression vectors for HGF are biological drug candidates for the treatment of patients with diseases and injuries that are associated with impaired tissue function. The intravenous/systemic administration of recombinant HGF protein has been well tolerated in phase I/II clinical trials. The phase-I and phase-I/II clinical trials of the intrathecal administration of HGF protein for the treatment of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal cord injury, respectively, are ongoing.
Abstract: The MET oncogene encodes for Met protein, a trans-membrane tyrosine kinase identified as the high affinity receptor for hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Immunohistochemical studies have demonstrated that Met protein is intensely expressed in tumor cells of >95% cases of thyroid papillary carcinoma. High density of Met protein in tumor cells is the result of increased transcription of a normal MET gene, probably due to a combination of intracellular and extracellular signals. Over-expression of Met protein is more pronounced at the invading front of the tumor and can profoundly affect the tumorigenesis of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid. In fact, Met protein-positive papillary carcinoma cells are highly responsive to hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), which is effective in stimulating tumor cell adhesion, migration and invasiveness. In addition, HGF stimulation of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid (PTC) cells causes up-regulation of COX-2 and down-regulation of CD82/KAI-1; both these molecules have a major role in controlling tumor cell invasiveness. Finally, HGF stimulation of tumor cells may significantly affect the tumor microenvironment. In fact, HGF induces tumor cells to release chemokines active in the recruitment of dendritic cells, and is involved in regulating the production of proangiogenic factors.
Abstract: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its tyrosine kinase receptor (Met) play important roles in myocardial function both in physiological and pathological situations. In the developing heart, HGF influences cardiomyocyte proliferation and differentiation. In the adult, HGF/Met signaling controls heart homeostasis and prevents oxidative stress in normal cardiomyocytes. Thus, the possible cardiotoxicity of current Met-targeted anti-cancer therapies has to be taken in consideration. In the injured heart, HGF plays important roles in cardioprotection by promoting: (1) prosurvival (anti-apoptotic and anti-autophagic) effects in cardiomyocytes, (2) angiogenesis, (3) inhibition of fibrosis, (4) anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory signals, and (5) regeneration through activation of cardiac stem cells. Furthermore, we discuss the putative role of elevated HGF as prognostic marker of severity in patients with cardiac diseases. Finally, we examine the potential of HGF-based molecules as new therapeutic tools for the treatment of cardiac diseases.
Abstract: Conventional dendritic cells (cDC) are ex vivo differentiated professional antigen presenting cells capable of potently stimulating naïve T cells and with vast potential for immunotherapeutic applications. The manufacture of clinical-grade cDC is relatively complex and requires several days for completion. Clinical trials showed poor trafficking of cDC from subcutaneous injection sites to lymph nodes (LN), where DC can optimally stimulate naïve lymphocytes for long-lasting memory responses. We demonstrated in mouse and human systems that a single overnight ex vivo lentiviral (LV) gene transfer into DC precursors for production of combination of cytokines and antigens was capable to induce autonomous self-differentiation of antigen-loaded DC in vitro and in vivo. These highly viable induced DC (iDC) effectively migrated from the injected skin to LN, where they effectively activated de novo antigen-specific effector memory T cells. Two iDC modalities were validated in relevant animal models and are now in clinical development: Self-differentiated Myeloid-derived Antigen-presenting-cells Reactive against Tumors co-expressing GM-CSF/IL-4/TRP2 for melanoma immunotherapy in the autologous setting (SmartDCtrp2), and Self-differentiated Myeloid-derived Lentivirus-induced against human cytomegalovirus as an allogeneic matched adoptive cell after stem cell transplantation (SmyleDCpp65). The lentiviral vector design and packaging methodology has “evolved” continuously in order to simplify and optimize function and biosafety of in vitro and in vivo genetic reprogramming of iDC. Here, we address the challenges seeking for new creations of genetically programmed iDC and integrase-defective LV vaccines for immune regeneration.
Abstract: The immune system has acquired increasing importance as a key player in cancer maintenance and growth. Thus, modulating anti-tumor immune mediators has become an attractive strategy for cancer treatment. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have gradually emerged as potential targets of newer immunotherapies. TLR-9 is preferentially expressed on endosome membranes of B-cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) and is known for its ability to stimulate specific immune reactions through the activation of inflammation-like innate responses. Several synthetic CpG oligonucleotides (ODNs) have been developed as TLR-9 agonists with the aim of enhancing cancer immune surveillance. In many preclinical models, CpG ODNs were found to suppress tumor growth and proliferation both in monotherapy and in addition to chemotherapies or target therapies. TLR-9 agonists have been also tested in several clinical trials in patients with solid tumors. These agents showed good tolerability and usually met activity endpoints in early phase trials. However, they have not yet been demonstrated to significantly impact survival, neither as single agent treatments, nor in combination with chemotherapies or cancer vaccines. Further investigations in larger prospective studies are required.
Abstract: Integration of viral vectors into a host genome is associated with insertional mutagenesis and subjects in clinical gene therapy trials must be monitored for this adverse event. Several PCR based methods such as ligase-mediated (LM) PCR, linear-amplification-mediated (LAM) PCR and non-restrictive (nr) LAM PCR were developed to identify sites of vector integration. Coupling the power of next-generation sequencing technologies with various PCR approaches will provide a comprehensive and genome-wide profiling of insertion sites and increase throughput. In this bioinformatics study, we aimed to develop and apply quality metrics to viral insertion data obtained using next-generation sequencing. We developed five simple metrics for assessing next-generation sequencing data from different PCR products and showed how the metrics can be used to objectively compare runs performed with the same methodology as well as data generated using different PCR techniques. The results will help researchers troubleshoot complex methodologies, understand the quality of sequencing data, and provide a starting point for developing standardization of vector insertion site data analysis.