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Gene Ther. 2001 Sep;8(17):1281-90.

Development of formulations that enhance physical stability of viral vectors for gene therapy.

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  • 1The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmaceutics, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


This study summarizes our initial efforts to address an issue that is critical to the success of any multicenter gene therapy clinical trial - maintenance of vector viability during shipping and storage at remote test sites. We have identified formulation and processing factors that influence stability of viral preparations such as selection of appropriate buffer systems, cryoprotectants, and storage conditions. Adenovirus and adeno-associated virus expressing E. coli beta-galactosidase (lacZ) were suspended in blends of complex carbohydrates, cyclodextrins and various surfactants. X-gal stains of 293 and 84-31 cells were used to determine infectious titer of all preparations. Potassium phosphate-buffered preparations consistently maintained high viral titers after storage at -20 and 4 degrees C. Blends of sucrose, mannitol, and surfactant showed negligible loss of titer for 35 days at 4 degrees C. Formulations of sucrose and cyclodextrin were stable for 2 years at -20 degrees C. Negligible loss in titer was observed in unit-dose viral preparations lyophilized in sucrose and stored at 4 degrees C for 1 year after an initial loss of 0.5 log due to processing. Studies with lyophilized sucrose/mannitol blends have shown that viral recovery after processing is directly related to the final moisture content of the dried product. Virus concentration also plays a significant role in recovery after processing with highly concentrated preparations showing minimal loss in titer after lyophilization. In summary, lyophilized preparations that can be shipped and stored at 25 degrees C offer a solution to the current problem of distribution of viral vectors for clinical trials.

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