AAV Gene Therapy for MPS1-associated Corneal Blindness.


Although cord blood transplantation has significantly extended the lifespan of mucopolysaccharidosis type 1 (MPS1) patients, over 95% manifest cornea clouding with about 50% progressing to blindness. As corneal transplants are met with high rejection rates in MPS1 children, there remains no treatment to prevent blindness or restore vision in MPS1 children. Since MPS1 is caused by mutations in idua, which encodes alpha-L-iduronidase, a gene addition strategy to prevent, and potentially reverse, MPS1-associated corneal blindness was investigated. Initially, a codon optimized idua cDNA expression cassette (opt-IDUA) was validated for IDUA production and function following adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector transduction of MPS1 patient fibroblasts. Then, an AAV serotype evaluation in human cornea explants identified an AAV8 and 9 chimeric capsid (8G9) as most efficient for transduction. AAV8G9-opt-IDUA administered to human corneas via intrastromal injection demonstrated widespread transduction, which included cells that naturally produce IDUA, and resulted in a >10-fold supraphysiological increase in IDUA activity. No significant apoptosis related to AAV vectors or IDUA was observed under any conditions in both human corneas and MPS1 patient fibroblasts. The collective preclinical data demonstrate safe and efficient IDUA delivery to human corneas, which may prevent and potentially reverse MPS1-associated cornea blindness.





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Publication Info

Vance, Melisa, Telmo Llanga, Will Bennett, Kenton Woodard, Giridhar Murlidharan, Neil Chungfat, Aravind Asokan, Brian Gilger, et al. (2016). AAV Gene Therapy for MPS1-associated Corneal Blindness. Scientific reports, 6(1). p. 22131. 10.1038/srep22131 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24622.

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Aravind Asokan

Professor in Surgery

Synthetic Virology & Gene Therapy


Joanne Kurtzberg

Jerome S. Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Kurtzberg is an internationally renowned expert in pediatric hematology/oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, umbilical cord blood banking and transplantation, and novel applications of cord blood and birthing tissues in the emerging fields of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.   Dr. Kurtzberg serves as the Director of the Marcus Center for Cellular Cures (MC3), Director of the Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, Director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, and Co-Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Laboratory at Duke University.  The Carolinas Cord Blood Bank is an FDA licensed public cord blood bank distributing unrelated cord blood units for donors for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) through the CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.  The Robertson GMP Cell Manufacturing Laboratory supports manufacturing of RETHYMIC (BLA, Enzyvant, 2021), allogeneic cord tissue derived and bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and DUOC, a microglial/macrophage cell derived from cord blood.

Dr. Kurtzberg’s research in MC3 focuses on translational studies from bench to bedside, seeking to develop transformative clinical therapies using cells, tissues, molecules, genes, and biomaterials to treat diseases and injuries that currently lack effective treatments. Recent areas of investigation in MC3 include clinical trials investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous and allogeneic cord blood in children with neonatal brain injury – hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy (CP), and autism. Clinical trials testing allogeneic cord blood are also being conducted in adults with acute ischemic stroke. Clinical trials optimizing manufacturing and testing the safety and efficacy of cord tissue MSCs in children with autism, CP and HIE and adults with COVID-lung disease are underway. DUOC, given intrathecally, is under study in children with leukodystrophies and adults with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

In the past, Dr. Kurtzberg has developed novel chemotherapeutic drugs for acute leukemias, assays enumerating ALDH bright cells to predict cord blood unit potency, methods of cord blood expansion, potency assays for targeted cell and tissue based therapies. Dr. Kurtzberg currently holds several INDs for investigational clinical trials from the FDA.  She has also trained numerous medical students, residents, clinical and post-doctoral fellows over the course of her career.

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