Suppression of Neovascularization of Donor Corneas by Transduction with Equine Infectious Anemia Virus-Based Lentiviral Vectors Expressing Endostatin and Angiostatin

Maria Parker, Jessica Bellec, Trevor McFarland, Vicky Scripps, Binoy Appukuttan, M Hartzell, Austen Yeager, Thomas Hady, Kyriacos Mitrophanous, Tim Stout, Scott Ellis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Corneal transplantation is the oldest and one of the most successful transplant procedures with a success rate in many studies in excess of 90%. The high success rate is mainly attributable to the relatively immune-privileged status of the eye and the fact that the cornea is largely avascular. However, the success rate in patients with failed grafts is much lower such that regrafting is frequently the top indication for corneal transplantation in many centers. Neovascularization is the most important risk factor for rejection, as it allows access of the immune system to the donor tissue, compromising immune privilege of the graft/eye. We have developed a process to modify donor corneal tissue to prevent rejection by a single exposure to a gene therapy vector before surgery (EncorStat®). The vector used is based on clinically relevant equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV)-derived lentiviral platform and contains genes for two potently angiostatic genes, endostatin and angiostatin. We show that incubation of rabbit, primate, and human corneal tissue with the EIAV vector mediates strong, stable expression in the corneal endothelium. We have optimized this process to maximize transduction and, once this is complete, maximize the removal of free vector before transplant. Rabbit corneas treated with two different antiangiogenic expression vectors (EIAV-EndoAngio and to a lesser extent EIAV-Endo:k5) significantly suppressed neovascularization in a rabbit model of corneal rejection. As a result, corneal opacity, edema, and inflammatory infiltrates were reduced in these corneas. This study demonstrates that angiogenesis is a suitable target to prevent corneal rejection, and provides the first proof-of-concept data for the development of EncorStat, an ex vivo gene therapy treatment to prevent corneal rejection.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)408-418
    Number of pages11
    Journal Human Gene Therapy
    Volume25
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014

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