Encapsulated human primary myoblasts deliver functional hFIX in hemophilic mice
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BACKGROUND: Hemophilia B is a bleeding disorder caused by defective factor IX (FIX), currently treated by regular infusions of plasma-derived or recombinant FIX. We propose a gene therapy strategy based on the implantation of cells secreting FIX enclosed in alginate microcapsules as a highly desirable alternative treatment. We have reported sustained delivery of human factor IX (hFIX) in immunocompetent mice implanted with encapsulated primary mouse myoblasts engineered to secrete hFIX. As a step towards the treatment of human patients, in this study we report the implantation of encapsulated human primary myoblasts secreting hFIX in hemophilia B mice. METHODS: Human primary myoblasts were transfected with plasmids pKL4M-hFIX, pLNM-betaIXL, pMFG-hFIX, and transduced with retrovirus MFG-hFIX. Two human primary myoblast clones secreting approximately 1 microg hFIX/10(6) cells/day were enclosed in biocompatible alginate microcapsules and implanted intraperitoneally into SCID and hemophilic mice. RESULTS: Circulating hFIX (peak of approximately 120 ng/ml) was detected in hemophilia B mice on day 1 after implantation. Human FIX delivery was transient, however, becoming undetectable on day 14. Concurrently, anti-hFIX antibodies were detected. At the same time, activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) was reduced from 94 s before treatment to 78-80 s. Tail bleeding time decreased from 15 min to 1.5-7 min after treatment, some mice being normalised. These findings indicate that the delivered hFIX is biologically active. Similarly treated NOD/SCID mice had circulating hFIX levels of 170 ng/ml on day 1 that remained detectable for 1 month, albeit at low levels. Cell viability of microcapsules retrieved on day 60 was below 5%. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that encapsulated human primary myoblasts secrete functional hFIX. Furthermore, implantation of encapsulated human primary myoblasts can partially correct the phenotype of hemophilia B mice, supporting the feasibility of this gene therapy approach for hemophilia B. However, the long-term viability of the encapsulated human myoblasts must first be improved.