Genetically Modified Cornea Safely and Effectively Prevents Rejection Post-Transplantation

Source: Human Gene Therapy

Researchers engineered a donor cornea, introducing two genes intended to prevent new blood vessel formation following transplantation, and have shown this novel approach to be safe, well tolerated, and effective at reducing the risk of tissue rejection in a high-risk rabbit model, according to a news release from publisher Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

These conclusive findings support angiogenesis as a valid target for treatment to prevent corneal graft rejection in high-risk patients, according to the study published in Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert. The article is available free for download on the Human Gene Therapy website until May 12, 2018.

Tim Stout, Baylor College of Medicine (Houston) Scott Ellis, Oxford BioMedica (Ox-ford, UK) and coauthors from Baylor, Oxford Biomedica, and Oregon Health and Sciences University (Portland) describe the study design, the outcomes, and the implications of their results in the article entitled “Safety and Efficacy of OXB-202, a Genetically Engineered Tissue Therapy for the Prevention of Rejection in High Risk Corneal Transplant Patients.”

The researchers used a lentiviral vector to transfer the genes for the human proteins endostatin and angiostatin into the donor corneas. These secreted proteins inhibit vascularization, helping to prevent an immune reaction to the transplanted tissue and rejection of the cornea.

“The work from Drs. Stout and Ellis and their colleagues represents yet another example of how gene therapy for disorders of the eye has led the way in clinical translation,” Editor-in-Chief Terence R. Flotte, MD, Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education and Dean, Provost, and Executive Deputy Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, said in the news release. “Gene modification of corneal transplants could provide a unique approach to filling a pressing unmet medical need.”

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