Objective: Dysferlinopathies are a family of untreatable muscle disorders caused by mutations in the dysferlin gene. Lack of dysferlin protein results in progressive dystrophy with chronic muscle fiber loss, inflammation, fat replacement, and fibrosis; leading to deteriorating muscle weakness. The objective of this work is to demonstrate efficient and safe restoration of dysferlin expression following gene therapy treatment.
Methods: Traditional gene therapy is restricted by the packaging capacity limit of adeno-associated virus (AAV), however, use of a dual vector strategy allows for delivery of over-sized genes, including dysferlin. The two vector system (AAV.DYSF.DV) packages the dysferlin cDNA utilizing AAV serotype rh.74 through the use of two discrete vectors defined by a 1 kb region of homology. Delivery of AAV.DYSF.DV via intramuscular and vascular delivery routes in dysferlin deficient mice and nonhuman primates was compared for efficiency and safety.
Results: Treated muscles were tested for dysferlin expression, overall muscle histology, and ability to repair following injury. High levels of dysferlin overexpression was shown for all muscle groups treated as well as restoration of functional outcome measures (membrane repair ability and diaphragm specific force) to wild-type levels. In primates, strong dysferlin expression was demonstrated with no safety concerns.
Interpretation: Treated muscles showed high levels of dysferlin expression with functional restoration with no evidence of toxicity or immune response providing proof of principle for translation to dysferlinopathy patients.