Preclinical Development of an AAV8-hUGT1A1 Vector for the Treatment of Crigler-Najjar Syndrome

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2018 Dec 31;12:157-174. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2018.12.011. eCollection 2019 Mar 15.


Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) are among the most efficient vectors for liver gene therapy. Results obtained in the first hemophilia clinical trials demonstrated the long-term efficacy of this approach in humans, showing efficient targeting of hepatocytes with both self-complementary (sc) and single-stranded (ss) AAV vectors. However, to support clinical development of AAV-based gene therapies, efficient and scalable production processes are needed. In an effort to translate to the clinic an approach of AAV-mediated liver gene transfer to treat Crigler-Najjar (CN) syndrome, we developed an (ss)AAV8 vector carrying the human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase family 1-member A1 (hUGT1A1) transgene under the control of a liver-specific promoter. We compared our construct with similar (sc)AAV8 vectors expressing hUGT1A1, showing comparable potency in vitro and in vivo. Conversely, (ss)AAV8-hUGT1A1 vectors showed superior yields and product homogeneity compared with their (sc) counterpart. We then focused our efforts in the scale-up of a manufacturing process of the clinical product (ss)AAV8-hUGT1A1 based on the triple transfection of HEK293 cells grown in suspension. Large-scale production of this vector had characteristics identical to those of small-scale vectors produced in adherent cells. Preclinical studies in animal models of the disease and a good laboratory practice (GLP) toxicology-biodistribution study were also conducted using large-scale preparations of vectors. These studies demonstrated long-term safety and efficacy of gene transfer with (ss)AAV8-hUGT1A1 in relevant animal models of the disease, thus supporting the clinical translation of this gene therapy approach for the treatment of CN syndrome.

Keywords: AAV vector; Crigler-Najjar syndrome; UGT1A1; liver gene transfer; long-term safety.