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PLoS One. 2015 Jun 24;10(6):e0130612. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130612. eCollection 2015.

Preclinical Potency and Biodistribution Studies of an AAV 5 Vector Expressing Human Interferon-β (ART-I02) for Local Treatment of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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Arthrogen B.V., Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America; Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
University Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris, France; Genethon, Evry, France.



Proof of concept for local gene therapy for the treatment of arthritis with immunomodulatory cytokine interferon beta (IFN-β) has shown promising results in animal models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For the treatment of RA patients, we engineered a recombinant adeno-associated serotype 5 vector (rAAV5) encoding human (h)IFN-β under control of a nuclear factor κB promoter (ART-I02).


The potency of ART-I02 in vitro as well as biodistribution in vivo in arthritic animals was evaluated to characterize the vector prior to clinical application. ART-I02 expression and bioactivity after transduction was evaluated in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) from different species. Biodistribution of the vector after local injection was assessed in a rat adjuvant arthritis model through qPCR analysis of vector DNA. In vivo imaging was used to investigate transgene expression and kinetics in a mouse collagen induced arthritis model.


Transduction of RA FLS in vitro with ART-I02 resulted in high expression levels of bioactive hIFN-β. Transduction of FLS from rhesus monkeys, rodents and rabbits with ART-I02 showed high transgene expression, and hIFN-β proved bioactive in FLS from rhesus monkeys. Transgene expression and bioactivity in RA FLS were unaltered in the presence of methotrexate. In vivo, vector biodistribution analysis in rats after intra-articular injection of ART-I02 demonstrated that the majority of vector DNA remained in the joint (>93%). In vivo imaging in mice confirmed local expression of rAAV5 in the knee joint region and demonstrated rapid detectable and sustained expression up until 7 weeks.


These data show that hIFN-β produced by RA FLS transduced with ART-I02 is bioactive and that intra-articular delivery of rAAV5 drives expression of a therapeutic transgene in the joint, with only limited biodistribution of vector DNA to other tissues, supporting progress towards a phase 1 clinical trial for the local treatment of arthritis in patients with RA.

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