Purpose: Glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a potential therapy for stroke, Parkinson's disease, or drug addiction. However, GDNF does not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). GDNF is re-engineered as a fusion protein with a chimeric monoclonal antibody (MAb) to the human insulin receptor (HIR), which acts as a molecular Trojan horse to deliver the GDNF across the BBB. The pharmacokinetics (PK), toxicology, and safety pharmacology of the HIRMAb-GDNF fusion protein were investigated in Rhesus monkeys.
Methods: The fusion protein was administered as an intravenous injection at doses up to 50 mg/kg over a 60 h period to 56 Rhesus monkeys. The plasma concentration of the HIRMAb-GDNF fusion protein was measured with a 2-site sandwich ELISA.
Results: No adverse events were observed in a 2-week terminal toxicology study, and no neuropathologic changes were observed. The PK analysis showed a linear relationship between plasma AUC and dose, a large systemic volume of distribution, as well as high clearance rates of 8-10 mL/kg/min.
Conclusions: A no-observable-adverse-effect level is established in the Rhesus monkey for the acute administration of the HIRMAb-GDNF fusion protein. The fusion protein targeting the insulin receptor has a PK profile similar to a classical small molecule.