Recombinant adeno-associated viruses (AAV) are promising vectors for human gene therapy. Despite regulatory approval and a rapidly growing pipeline, clinical data have indicated that vector dose-related hepatotoxicity is a significant concern. Recent preclinical studies suggest that heterogeneity in AAV vector preparations, including the presence of defective interfering particles with partial or truncated genomes contribute to such undesirable side effects. Although somewhat resolvable with anti-inflammatory drug regimens, permanent loss of gene expression has been reported. We postulate that improvements to AAV vector design and composition are likely to improve the safety profile. To achieve the latter goals, a better understanding of particle heterogeneity in AAV vectors packaging different genomes as well as the impact of such on AAV biology is essential. In the current proposal, we will first advance a potentially disruptive technology, charge detection mass spectrometry (CDMS) to help map the mass landscape of vector compositions associated with genome packaging. We will then bridge this basic information with new directions in AAV capsid engineering with the goal of improving compositional homogeneity and reducing the potential for side effects.
Each aim i s tailored to directly interrogate the proposed correlation between the composition of recombinant vectors with viral infectivity in cell culture as well as gene transfer efficiency and toxicity in mouse models. We expect our efforts to (i) offer significant, new insight into parvoviral capsid-genome interactions, (ii) enable the development and validation of a novel analytical technique for rapid screening and quality testing of clinical AAV samples, and (iii) improve AAV gene transfer efficiency and safety profile through capsid engineering.
Recombinant adeno-associated viruses (AAV) are promising vectors for human gene therapy. Despite regulatory approval in Europe and a rapidly growing pipeline in the US, dose-related hepatoxicity is a concern arising from particle heterogeneity in AAV vector preparations. We postulate that resolving the composition of AAV vectors and improving AAV vector genome packaging can help address the latter challenge. Here, we propose to utilize novel and cutting edge analytical techniques, molecular virology and protein engineering methods to bridge AAV biology with application. Our unique approach has the potential to yield new AAV vectors with an improved safety profile for prospective patients and improve clinical gene therapy outcomes.