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Front Immunol. 2013 Sep 12;4:273. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00273.

Immunological Monitoring to Rationally Guide AAV Gene Therapy.

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Translational Oncology, University Medical Center, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz (TRON gGmbH) , Mainz , Germany ; Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT) , Mainz , Germany.


Recent successes with adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapies fuel the hope for new treatments for hereditary diseases. Pre-existing as well as therapy-induced immune responses against both AAV and the encoded transgenes have been described and may impact on safety and efficacy of gene therapy approaches. Consequently, monitoring of vector- and transgene-specific immunity is mandated and may rationally guide clinical development. Next to the humoral immune response, the cellular response is central in our understanding of the host reaction in gene therapy. But in contrast to the monitoring of antibodies, which has matured over many decades, sensitive and robust monitoring of T cells is a relatively new development. To make cellular immune assessments fit for purpose, investigators need to know, control and report the critical assay variables that influence the results. In addition, the quality of immune assays needs to be continuously adjusted to allow for exploratory hypothesis generation in early stages and confirmatory hypothesis validation in later stages of clinical development. The concept of immune assay harmonization which includes use of field-wide benchmarks, harmonization guidelines, and external quality control can support the context-specific evolution of immune assays. Multi-center studies pose particular challenges to sample logistics and quality control of sample specimens. Cooperative groups need to define if immune assessments should be performed in one central facility, in peripheral labs or including a combination of both. Finally, engineered reference samples that contain a defined number of antigen-specific T cells may become broadly applicable tools to control assay performance over time or across institutions.


adeno-associated virus; assay harmonization; biomarkers; gene therapy; immunological monitoring

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