Abstract: Cancer has been, from the beginning, a target of intense research for gene therapy approaches. Currently, more than 60% of all on-going clinical gene therapy trials worldwide are targeting cancer. Indeed, there is a clear unmet medical need for novel therapies. This is further urged by the fact that current conventional cancer therapies are frequently troubled by their toxicities. Different gene therapy strategies have been employed for cancer, such as pro-drug activating suicide gene therapy, anti-angiogenic gene therapy, oncolytic virotherapy, gene therapy-based immune modulation, correction/compensation of gene defects, genetic manipulation of apoptotic and tumor invasion pathways, antisense, and RNAi strategies. Cancer types, which have been targeted with gene therapy, include brain, lung, breast, pancreatic, liver, colorectal, prostate, bladder, head and neck, skin, ovarian, and renal cancer. Currently, two cancer gene therapy products have received market approval, both of which are in China. In addition, the stimulation of the host’s immune system, using gene therapeutic approaches, has gained vast interest. The intention of this review is to point out the most commonly viral and non-viral vectors and methods used in cancer gene therapy, as well as highlight some key results achieved in clinical trials.
Abstract: Helper-dependent adenoviral (HDAd) vectors that are devoid of all viral coding sequences are promising non-integrating vectors for gene therapy because they efficiently transduce a variety of cell types in vivo, have a large cloning capacity, and drive long-term transgene expression without chronic toxicity. The main obstacle preventing clinical applications of HDAd vectors is the host innate inflammatory response against the vector capsid proteins that occurs shortly after intravascular vector administration and result in acute toxicity, the severity of which is dose dependent. Intense efforts have been focused on elucidating adenoviral vector–host interactions and the factors involved in the acute toxicity. This review focuses on the recent acquisition of data on such interactions and on strategies investigated to improve the therapeutic index of HDAd vectors.
Abstract: Adenoviruses (Ads) infect a broad range of tissue types, and derived vectors have been extensively used for gene therapy. Helper-dependent Ad vectors (HDAds), devoid of viral coding sequences, allow for insertion of large or multiple transgenes in a single vector and have been preclinically used for the study of genetic disorders. However, the clinical application of Ad vectors including HDAds for genetic disorders has been hampered by an acute toxic response. This characteristic, while disadvantageous for gene replacement therapy, could be strategically advantageous for the activation of an immune response if HDAds were used as an adjunct treatment in cancer. Cancer treatments including immunotherapy are frequently limited by the inhibitory environment produced by both tumors and their stroma, each of which express numerous inhibitory molecules. Hence, multiple inhibitory mechanisms must be overcome for development of anti-tumor immunity. The large coding capacity of HDAds can accommodate multiple immune modulating transgenes that could produce a combined effect to overcome tumor-derived inhibition and ensure intratumoral effector T-cell proliferation and function. In this review, we discuss the potential advantages of HDAds to cancer immunotherapy based on potent host immune responses to Ads.
Abstract: Humans are unable to synthesise ascorbate (Vitamin C) due to the lack of a functional gulonolactone oxidase (Gulo), the enzyme that catalyses the final step in the biosynthesis pathway. Ascorbate is a vital micronutrient required for many biological functions, including as a cofactor for metalloenzymes that regulate the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), which governs cell survival under hypoxia. In most animals, ascorbate is made in liver cells. This study aimed to restore ascorbate synthesis to human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells and determine the effect of internally produced ascorbate on HIF-1 activation. HepG2 cells were gene-modified with a plasmid encoding the mouse Gulo cDNA, tested for genomic incorporation by PCR and ascorbate synthesis by high performance liquid chromatography. Levels of HIF-1 protein were measured using Western blotting. Gulo-modified HepG2 cells showed increased adherence compared to control HepG2 cells. A PCR-positive clone synthesised ascorbate when the Gulo substrate, l-gulono-1,4-lactone, was supplied. Intracellular ascorbate concentrations reached 5% of saturation levels (6 nmol/106 cells). Addition of ascorbate or gulonolactone reduced HIF-1 accumulation in the Gulo clone, but also in parental HepG2 cells. Our data confirm the requirement for a number of factors in addition to Gulo in the ascorbate biosynthesis pathway in human cells.
Abstract: Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based vectors expressing therapeutic genes continue to demonstrate great promise for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases and together with other gene transfer vectors represent an emerging new therapeutic paradigm comparable in potential impact on human health to that achieved by recombinant proteins and vaccines. A challenge for the current pipeline of AAV-based investigational products as they advance through clinical development is the identification, characterization and lot-to-lot control of the process- and product-related impurities present in even highly purified preparations. Especially challenging are AAV vector product-related impurities that closely resemble the vector itself and are, in some cases, without clear precedent in established biotherapeutic products. The determination of acceptable levels of these impurities in vectors prepared for human clinical product development, with the goal of new product licensure, requires careful risk and feasibility assessment. This review focuses primarily on the AAV product-related impurities that have been described in vectors prepared for clinical development.
Abstract: Regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and gene therapy offer the opportunity to treat and cure many of today’s intractable afflictions. These approaches to personalized medicine often utilize stem cells to accomplish these goals. However, stem cells can be negatively affected by donor variables such as age and health status at the time of collection, compromising their efficacy. Stem cell banking offers the opportunity to cryogenically preserve stem cells at their most potent state for later use in these applications. Practical stem cell sources include bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and tissue, and adipose tissue. Each of these sources contains stem cells that can be obtained from most individuals, without too much difficulty and in an economical fashion. This review will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each stem cell source, factors to be considered when contemplating banking each stem cell source, the methodology required to bank each stem cell source, and finally, current and future clinical uses of each stem cell source.