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Logo of nihpaAbout Author manuscriptsSubmit a manuscriptNIH Public Access; Author Manuscript; Accepted for publication in peer reviewed journal;
Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. Author manuscript; available in PMC Oct 23, 2007.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC2040267
NIHMSID: NIHMS27812

Inducible caspase 9 suicide gene to improve the safety of allodepleted T cells after haploidentical stem cell transplantation

Abstract

Addback of donor T cells following T cell-depleted stem cell transplantation (SCT) can accelerate immune reconstitution and be effective against relapsed malignancy. After haploidentical SCT, a high risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) essentially precludes this option, unless the T cells are first depleted of alloreactive precursor cells. Even then, the risks of severe GVHD remain significant. To increase the safety of the approach and thereby permit administration of larger T cell doses, we used a suicide gene, inducible caspase 9 (iCasp9), to transduce allodepleted T cells, permitting their destruction should administration have adverse effects. We made a retroviral vector encoding iCasp9 and a selectable marker (truncated CD19). Even after allodepletion (using anti-CD25 immunotoxin), donor T cells could be efficiently transduced, expanded, and subsequently enriched by CD19 immunomagnetic selection to >90% purity. These engineered cells retained anti-viral specificity and functionality, and contained a subset with regulatory phenotype and function. Activating iCasp9 with a small-molecule dimerizer rapidly produced >90% apoptosis. Although transgene expression was downregulated in quiescent T cells, iCasp9 remained an efficient suicide gene, as expression was rapidly upregulated in activated (alloreactive) T cells. We have demonstrated the clinical feasibility of this approach after haploidentical transplantation by scaling up production using clinical grade materials.

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