Laura Tuppurainen, H. Sallinen, Emmi Kokki
Mar 15, 2013
Human gene therapy. Clinical development
Abstract Antiangiogenic and antilymphangiogenic gene therapy with soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) and soluble VEGFR-3 in combination with chemotherapy is a potential new treatment for ovarian carcinoma. We evaluated the safety, toxicology, and biodistribution of intravenous AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3 combined with chemotherapy in healthy rats (n=90) before entering a clinical setting. The study groups were: AdLacZ and AdLacZ with chemotherapy as control groups, low dose AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3, high dose AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3, combination of low dose AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3 with chemotherapy, combination of high dose AdsVEGFR-2 and AdVEGFR-3 with chemotherapy, and chemotherapy only. The follow-up time was 4 weeks. Safety and toxicology were assessed by monitoring the clinical status of the animals and by histological, hematological, and clinical chemistry parameters. For the biodistribution studies, quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were used. Low dose (2×10(10) vp) AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3 gene therapy was well tolerated, even when gene therapy was combined with chemotherapy. Notably, only transient elevation of liver enzymes and mild regenerative changes were seen in liver after the gene transfer in the groups that received high doses (2×10(11) vp) of AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3 with or without chemotherapy. No life-threatening adverse effects were noticed in any of the treatment groups. The highest protein concentration of soluble VEGFR-2 (sVEGFR-2) in circulation was seen 1 week after the gene transfer. The combination of chemotherapy to gene therapy seemed to prolong the time of detectable transgene protein at least 1 week in the circulation. The expression of AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3 transgenes was mainly seen in the liver and spleen as detected by qRT-PCR. According to these results, AdsVEGFR-2 and AdsVEGFR-3 gene therapy combined with chemotherapy is safe and can be brought to clinical testing in ovarian cancer patients.