Addback of donor T cells following T cell-depleted stem cell transplantation (SCT) can accelerate immune reconstitution and be effective against relapsed malignancy. After haploidentical SCT, a high risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) essentially precludes this option, unless the T cells are first depleted of alloreactive precursor cells. Even then, the risks of severe GVHD remain significant. To increase the safety of the approach and thereby permit administration of larger T cell doses, we used a suicide gene, inducible caspase 9 (iCasp9), to transduce allodepleted T cells, permitting their destruction should administration have adverse effects. We made a retroviral vector encoding iCasp9 and a selectable marker (truncated CD19). Even after allodepletion (using anti-CD25 immunotoxin), donor T cells could be efficiently transduced, expanded, and subsequently enriched by CD19 immunomagnetic selection to >90% purity. These engineered cells retained antiviral specificity and functionality, and contained a subset with regulatory phenotype and function. Activating iCasp9 with a small-molecule dimerizer rapidly produced >90% apoptosis. Although transgene expression was downregulated in quiescent T cells, iCasp9 remained an efficient suicide gene, as expression was rapidly upregulated in activated (alloreactive) T cells. We have demonstrated the clinical feasibility of this approach after haploidentical transplantation by scaling up production using clinical grade materials.
- Gene therapy
- Graft-versus-host disease
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
- T lymphocyte
ASJC Scopus subject areas