Biosafety Studies of a Clinically Applicable Lentiviral Vector for the Gene Therapy of Artemis-SCID

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2019 Sep 13;15:232-245. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2019.08.014. eCollection 2019 Dec 13.


Genetic deficiency of the nuclease DCLRE1C/Artemis causes radiosensitive severe combined immunodeficiency (RS-SCID) with lack of peripheral T and B cells and increased sensitivity to ionizing radiations. Gene therapy based on transplanting autologous gene-modified hematopoietic stem cells could significantly improve the health of patients with RS-SCID by correcting their immune system. A lentiviral vector expressing physiological levels of human ARTEMIS mRNA from an EF1a promoter without post-transcriptional regulation was developed as a safe clinically applicable candidate for RS-SCID gene therapy. The vector was purified in GMP-comparable conditions and was not toxic in vitro or in vivo. Long-term engraftment of vector-transduced hematopoietic cells was achieved in irradiated Artemis-deficient mice following primary and secondary transplantation (6 months each). Vector-treated mice displayed T and B lymphopoiesis and polyclonal T cells, had structured lymphoid tissues, and produced immunoglobulins. Benign signs of inflammation were noted following secondary transplants, likely a feature of the model. There was no evidence of transgene toxicity and no induction of hematopoietic malignancy. In vitro, the vector had low genotoxic potential on murine hematopoietic progenitor cells using an immortalization assay. Altogether, these preclinical data show safety and efficacy, and support further development of the vector for the gene therapy of RS-SCID.

Keywords: Artemis; B cell; SCID; T cell; gene therapy; mouse; preclinical study; primary immunodeficiency.