Sustained intrathecal therapeutic protein delivery using genetically transduced tissue implants in a freely moving rat model

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Systemic delivery of therapeutic proteins to the central nervous system (CNS) is challenging because of the blood-brain barrier restrictions. Direct intrathecal delivery is possible but does not produce stable concentrations. We are proposing an alternative approach for localized delivery into the CNS based on the Transduced Autologous Restorative Gene Therapy (TARGT) system. This system was previously developed using a gene therapy approach with dermal tissue implants. Lewis rat dermal tissue was transduced to secrete human EPO (hEPO). TARGT viability and function were retained following cryopreservation. Upon implantation into the rat cisterna magna, a mild inflammatory response was observed at the TARGT-brain interface throughout 21-day implantation. hEPO expression was verified immunohistochemically and by secreted levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), serum, and in vitro post explant. Detectable CSF hEPO levels were maintained during the study. Serum hEPO levels were similar to rat and human basal serum levels. In vitro, the highest hEPO concentration was observed on day 1 post-explant culture and then remained constant for over 21 days. Prolonged incubation within the cisterna magna had no negative impact on TARGT hEPO secretion. These promising results suggest that TARGTs could be utilized for targeted delivery of therapeutic proteins to the CNS.

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