B cell focused transient immune suppression protocol for efficient AAV readministration to the liver

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2024 Feb 20;32(1):101216. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2024.101216. eCollection 2024 Mar 14.


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are used for correcting multiple genetic disorders. Although the goal is to achieve lifelong correction with a single vector administration, the ability to redose would enable the extension of therapy in cases in which initial gene transfer is insufficient to achieve a lasting cure, episomal vector forms are lost in growing organs of pediatric patients, or transgene expression is diminished over time. However, AAV typically induces potent and long-lasting neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against capsid that prevents re-administration. To prevent NAb formation in hepatic AAV8 gene transfer, we developed a transient B cell-targeting protocol using a combination of monoclonal Ab therapy against CD20 (for B cell depletion) and BAFF (to slow B cell repopulation). Initiation of immunosuppression before (rather than at the time of) vector administration and prolonged anti-BAFF treatment prevented immune responses against the transgene product and abrogated prolonged IgM formation. As a result, vector re-administration after immune reconstitution was highly effective. Interestingly, re-administration before the immune system had fully recovered achieved further elevated levels of transgene expression. Finally, this immunosuppression protocol reduced Ig-mediated AAV uptake by immune cell types with implications to reduce the risk of immunotoxicities in human gene therapy with AAV.

Keywords: AAV; BAFF; CD20; capsid; gene therapy; immune suppression; re-administration; redosing; transgene.