Salmeterol enhances the cardiac response to gene therapy in Pompe disease.

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Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) with recombinant human (rh) acid α-glucosidase (GAA) has prolonged the survival of patients. However, the paucity of cation-independent mannose-6-phosphate receptor (CI-MPR) in skeletal muscle, where it is needed to take up rhGAA, correlated with a poor response to ERT by muscle in Pompe disease. Clenbuterol, a selective β2 receptor agonist, enhanced the CI-MPR expression in striated muscle through Igf-1 mediated muscle hypertrophy, which correlated with increased CI-MPR (also the Igf-2 receptor) expression. In this study we have evaluated 4 new drugs in GAA knockout (KO) mice in combination with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector encoding human GAA, 3 alternative β2 agonists and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Mice were injected with AAV2/9-CBhGAA (1E+11 vector particles) at a dose that was not effective at clearing glycogen storage from the heart. Heart GAA activity was significantly increased by either salmeterol (p<0.01) or DHEA (p<0.05), in comparison with untreated mice. Furthermore, glycogen content was reduced in the heart by treatment with DHEA (p<0.001), salmeterol (p<0.05), formoterol (p<0.01), or clenbuterol (p<0.01) in combination with the AAV vector, in comparison with untreated GAA-KO mice. Wirehang testing revealed that salmeterol and the AAV vector significantly increased performance, in comparison with the AAV vector alone (p<0.001). Similarly, salmeterol with the vector increased performance significantly more than any of the other drugs. The most effective individual drugs had no significant effect in absence of vector, in comparison with untreated mice. Thus, salmeterol should be further developed as adjunctive therapy in combination with either ERT or gene therapy for Pompe disease.





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Han, Sang-Oh, Songtao Li and Dwight D Koeberl (2016). Salmeterol enhances the cardiac response to gene therapy in Pompe disease. Mol Genet Metab, 118(1). pp. 35–40. 10.1016/j.ymgme.2016.03.006 Retrieved from

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Dwight D. Koeberl

Professor of Pediatrics

As a physician-scientist practicing clinical and biochemical genetics, I am highly motivated to seek improved therapy for my patients with inherited disorders of metabolism. The focus of our research has been the development of gene therapy with adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, most recently by genome editing with CRISPR/Cas9. We have developed gene therapy for inherited disorders of metabolism, especially glycogen storage disease (GSD) and phenylketonuria (PKU). 
1) GSD Ia: Glucose-6-phosphatase (G6Pase) deficient animals provide models for developing new therapy for GSD Ia, although early mortality complicates research with both the murine and canine models of GSD Ia. We have prolonged the survival and reversed the biochemical abnormalities in G6Pase-knockout mice and dogs with GSD type Ia, following the administration of AAV8-pseudotyped AAV vectors encoding human G6Pase. More recently, we have performed genome editing to integrate a therapeutic transgene in a safe harbor locus for mice with GSD Ia, permanently correcting G6Pase deficiency in the GSD Ia liver. Finally, we have identified reduced autophagy as an underlying hepatocellular defect that might be treated with pro-autophagic drugs in GSD Ia.
2) GSD II/Pompe disease: Pompe disease is caused by the deficiency of acid-alpha-glucosidase (GAA) in muscle, resulting in the massive accumulation of lysosomal glycogen in striated muscle with accompanying weakness. While enzyme replacement has shown promise in infantile-onset Pompe disease patients, no curative therapy is available. We demonstrated that AAV vector-mediated gene therapy will likely overcome limitations of enzyme replacement therapy, including formation of anti-GAA antibodies and the need for frequent infusions. We demonstrated that liver-restricted expression with an AAV vector prevented antibody responses in GAA-knockout mice by inducing immune tolerance to human GAA. Antibody responses have complicated enzyme replacement therapy for Pompe disease and emphasized a potential advantage of gene therapy for this disorder. The strategy of administering low-dose gene therapy prior to initiation of enzyme replacement therapy, termed immunomodulatory gene therapy, prevented antibody formation and increased efficacy in Pompe disease mice. We are currently conducting a Phase I clinical trial of immunomodulatory gene therapy in adult patients with Pompe disease. Furthermore, we have developed drug therapy to increase the receptor-mediated uptake of GAA in muscle cells, which provides adjunctive therapy to more definitively treat Pompe disease.
3) PKU: In collaboration with researchers at OHSU, we performed an early gene therapy experiment that demonstrated long-term biochemical correction of PKU in mice with an AAV8 vector. PKU is a very significant disorder detected by newborn screening and currently inadequately treated by dietary therapy. Phenylalanine levels in mice were corrected in the blood, and elevated phenylalanine causes mental retardation and birth defects in children born to affected women, and gene therapy for PKU would address an unmet need for therapy in this disorder.

Currently we are developing methods for genome editing that will stably correct the enzyme  deficiency in GSD Ia and in Pompe disease.  Our long-term goal is to develop efficacious genome editing for glycogen storage diseases, which will allow us to treat these conditions early in life with long-term benefits. 

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