Allogeneic transplantation, the standard-of-care for a variety of inherited disorders, is limited by a shortage of compatible donors, low numbers of engrafting hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), the toxicity of necessary preparative regimens and post-transplant immunosuppression, and graft vs. host disease (GVHD). Hurdles to the application of gene therapy for hereditary disorders include variable gene expression, inefficient transduction of HSC, and immune responses to vectors and therapeutic genes. We propose to circumvent these hurdles to HSC transplantation and gene therapy by uniquely combining transplantation during the neonatal period, when tolerance may be more readily achieved, with a positive selection strategy for in vivo amplification of drug-resistant donor cells. HYPOTHESIS 1: The neonatal period is a unique window during immune ontogeny for transplantation of genetically modified allogeneic HSC to achieve long-term engraftment. Neonatal transplantation provides a model system for exploring mechanisms of tolerance induction to neoantigens, and allogeneic stem cell engraftment. Fetal liver and bone marrow-derived HSC will be transduced ex vivo by lentivirus-mediated gene transfer of P140K-methylguanine methytransferase (MGMT). This variant DNA repair enzyme confers resistance to benzylguanine, an inhibitor of endogenous MGMT, and to chloroethylating agents such as BCNU, enabling enrichment of donor cells at the stem cell level with in vivo chemoselection. HYPOTHESIS 2: An MGMT-based positive selection strategy will both expand donor stem cells and deplete allo-reactive cells of donor and host origin, eliminating the need for toxic ablative or immunosuppressive treatment. Potential risks of transplantation of such genetically modified allogeneic HSC include GVHD and insertional mutagenesis resulting in uncontrolled clonal proliferation. HYPOTHESIS 3: HSC transduction with a positive/negative lentiviral vector incorporating MGMT and thymidine kinase (TK) will enable negative selection of proliferating alloreactive T cells. Negative selection with ganciclovir also enables elimination of malignant clonal populations.
Specific Aims :
AIM 1 : Non-myeloablative, transplantation of syngeneic MGMT-GFP lentivirus-transduced HSC in neonates and in vivo chemoselection will be used to determine whether tolerance to the GFP neoantigen is induced.
AIM 2 : Neonatal transplantation and in vivo selection of MGMT-TK lentivirus-transduced HSC will be applied in a semi-allogeneic model recapitulating haploidentical transplantation. We will define mechanisms underlying stable donor chimersim and use ganciclovir to control GVHD or autonomous clonal populations, should they arise.
AIM 3 : The therapeutic efficacy of non-myeloablative, semi-allogeneic neonatal transplantation/chemoselection will be tested in a murine model of ? thalassemia. The studies we propose in these neonatal transplantation models will generate definitive data with broad implications for gene therapy and transplantation for genetic and other disorders. Public Health Relevance: Although hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the only curative therapy for many blood-related disorders, associated risks often limit the application of this treatment. Our goal is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with transplantation and to enable early correction of inherited disorders in larger numbers of affected individuals. We have developed a new approach combining gene therapy and stem cell transplantation that reduces or eliminates the need for toxic, high dose chemotherapy and immunosuppression used in current transplant protocols and procedures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Gene and Drug Delivery Systems Study Section (GDD)
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Qasba, Pankaj
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University of California San Francisco
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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