Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha), in conjunction with ribavirin, is the current standard for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. This treatment requires frequent dosing, with a significant risk of the development of anti-IFN-alpha neutralizing antibodies that correlates with lack of efficacy or relapse. We have developed an IFN-alpha linked to the Fc region of human IgG1 for improved half-life and less frequent dosing. We have also identified, using a human T cell proliferation assay, three regions of IFN-alpha2b that are potentially immunogenic, and a variant containing a total of six mutations within these regions was made. This variant was made as a fusion to Fc either with or without a flexible linker between the fusion partners. Both configurations of the variant were less active than native IFN-alpha alone, although the variant containing the flexible linker had in vitro antiviral activity within the range of other modified IFN-alphas currently in clinical use. Peptides spanning the modified regions were tested in T cell proliferation assays and found to be less immunogenic than native controls when using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from both healthy individuals and HCV-infected patients who had been treated previously with IFN-alpha2b.
Copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.