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Mol Ther. 2003 Aug;8(2):332-41.

Development of a sensitive assay for detection of replication-competent recombinant lentivirus in large-scale HIV-based vector preparations.

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Cell Genesys, Inc., 500 Forbes Boulevard, South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


Lentiviral vectors have demonstrated great potential as gene therapy vectors mediating efficient ex vivo and in vivo gene delivery and long-term transgene expression in both dividing and nondividing cells. However, for clinical studies it must be demonstrated that lentiviral vector preparations are safe and not contaminated by replication-competent recombinants related to the parental pathogenic virus. Here we describe a sensitive assay for the detection of replication-competent lentiviruses (RCL) in large-scale preparations of HIV-based lentiviral vectors. This RCL assay for lentiviral vectors is based on the principles used for retroviral vectors, using a highly permissive cell line, C8166-45, for RCL amplification and an appropriate positive control virus to establish the assay sensitivity. The assay is capable of detecting 1 RCL infectious unit in a background of 2.5 x 10(8) transducing units of vector in a single test culture. Statistically representative samples from large-scale lentiviral vector productions were assayed using multiple test cultures for each lot. Overall, a total of 1.4 x 10(10) transducing units of vector from 10 independent 14-liter production lots were screened and no RCL was detected. We propose to implement this assay as a release testing for clinical-grade lentiviral vector preparations intended for gene therapy clinical trials.

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