Background: Nerve growth factor (NGF) is an endogenous neurotrophic-factor protein with the potential to restore function and to protect degenerating cholinergic neurons in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but safe and effective delivery has proved unsuccessful.
Methods: Gene transfer, combined with stereotactic surgery, offers a potential means to solve the long-standing delivery obstacles. An open-label clinical trial evaluated the safety and tolerability, and initial efficacy of three ascending doses of the genetically engineered gene-therapy vector adeno-associated virus serotype 2 delivering NGF (AAV2-NGF [CERE-110]). Ten subjects with AD received bilateral AAV2-NGF stereotactically into the nucleus basalis of Meynert.
Results: AAV2-NGF was safe and well-tolerated for 2 years. Positron emission tomographic imaging and neuropsychological testing showed no evidence of accelerated decline. Brain autopsy tissue confirmed long-term, targeted, gene-mediated NGF expression and bioactivity.
Conclusions: This trial provides important evidence that bilateral stereotactic administration of AAV2-NGF to the nucleus basalis of Meynert is feasible, well-tolerated, and able to produce long-term, biologically active NGF expression, supporting the initiation of an ongoing multicenter, double-blind, sham-surgery-controlled trial.
Keywords: Cholinergic neurons; Gene therapy; Nerve growth factor; Neuroprotection; Neurorestoration; Neurotrophic factors; Nucleus basalis of Meynert; Translational R&D.
Copyright © 2014 The Alzheimer's Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.