Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Expediting Gene and Cell Therapies to the Clinics

What methodologies will best enhance the translation of technologies for gene and cell therapies into potential products for clinical application and commercial development? In considering a strategy for NHLBI investment in gene therapy, it is important to note that we are only at the beginning of a revolution that will eventually impact biomedical research across a broad range of specialties. NHLBI/NIH needs to create ...more »

Submitted by (@nhlbiforumadministrator)

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Technological advances in vector discovery over the last decade have set the stage for a wave of potential clinical successes in diseases relevant to NHLBI. These advances include the use of lentiviral vectors for bone marrow directed gene therapy with thalassemia emerging as an attractive target and with compelling clinical data with novel AAV serotypes in the treatment of hemophilia B, and possibly hemophilia A in the future.

 

Furthermore, an important milestone was achieved in November 2012 with the approval of the AAV-based product Glybera by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of a rare form of hypertriglyceridemia. This first and only commercially approved gene therapy product demonstrated regulatory receptivity for gene therapy which fueled a long overdue investment by the biopharmaceutical industry in gene therapy.

Finally, gene editing technologies such as CRISPR (clustered, regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats) are most suited for ex vivo approaches of gene therapy such as those based on engineered bone marrow stems cells for diseases like sickle cell anemia. These types of approaches could substantially reduce the risk of insertional mutagenesis that plagues lentiviral vectors and could improve expression profiles of the corrected cells by utilizing endogenous regulatory sequences.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

It is increasingly being recognized that establishing standardized assays for evaluating product potency and purity such as “pharmacologic” regulation will be critical for the success of gene therapy. NHLBI/NIH can also play a significant role in the development of second generation gene therapy technologies with enhanced safety and efficacy.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : NHLBI Staff

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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Genome Editing and Gene Therapy

There is a critical need for the establishment of strategies that will determine the efficacy, safety, and toxicity of genome editing techniques specifically in hematologic diseases.

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

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Inherited monogenic hematologic diseases such as hemophilia, beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease are prime targets for future application of genome editing technology. However, studies are still needed to advance our understanding of the biology of genome editing as well as determine which other disorders are amenable to genome editing correction. Emphasis on preclinical research that focuses on determining the accuracy, safety and efficiency of this technology in order to help minimize off-target mutations and reduce toxicity, is essential for effective translation of this technology into the clinic. Once preclinical efficacy is established, support will be needed for clinical vector production, toxicity testing of the vectors/reagents used, and the performance of clinical trials. The gene correction strategies developed for inherited disorders will also be attractive for other hematologic diseases, and autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type I diabetes). There is also a critical need for supporting preclinical validation studies, scale-up and GMP cell manufacturing, all of which could be shared infrastructures across multiple diseases in the NHLBI portfolio.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Alice Kuaban on behalf of the American Society of Hematology (ASH)

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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Immunologic Treatment of Hematologic Malignancies

How can the use of CAR T-cell and checkpoint blockade strategies be optimized in order to cure hematologic diseases?

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

As the body of evidence continues to grow on the potential applications for advanced immunotherapies, next-generation research must focus on addressing the possible curative effects that checkpoint blockades or adoptive CAR T-cell strategies can have for blood diseases including hematologic cancers. This will require specific research programs to fully understand the optimal role for these therapies within the continuum of care. To optimize these strategies for treatment of hematologic diseases, studies are needed to decipher specific hematologic diseases and circumstances under which these checkpoint blockers and CAR T-cell therapies may be employed as frontline approaches. Furthermore, while the optimal approach for these therapies is unclear, advanced studies are needed to elucidate the potential benefit in combining these promising approaches and whether patients can be better identified a priori for these therapies.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Alice Kuaban on behalf of the American Society of Hematology (ASH)

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Goal 1: Promote Human Health

Combinatorial intervention of immune dynamics to combat cariovascular disease

Human health and disease are modulated by complex and inter-connected dynamic processes. With particular significance, a well-balanced immune environment may play a key role in maintaining health and preventing the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Defining the dynamic programming and balance of immune environment will be the key for combinatorial therapies to reset homeostasis.

Submitted by (@lwli00)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Liwu Li

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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

The Designation of Human Cardiac Stem Cell therapy Products for Human Trials or First-in-Human Studies

For successful pharmaceutical development of cardiac stem cell therapy, the human cardiac stem cell therapy product must meet certain commercial criteria in plasticity, specificity, and stability before entry into clinical trials.

Submitted by (@xuejunparsons)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

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For successful pharmaceutical development of cardiac stem cell therapy, the human cardiac stem cell therapy product must meet certain commercial criteria in plasticity, specificity, and stability before entry into clinical trials. Moving stem cell research from current studies in animals into human trials must address such practical issues for commercial and therapeutic uses: 1) such human stem cells or their cardiac derivatives must be able to be manufactured in a commercial scale; 2) such human stem cells and their cardiac derivatives must be able to retain their normality or stability for a long term; and 3) such human stem cells must be able to differentiate or generate a sufficient number of functional or contractile cardiomyocytes for repair. Those practical issues are essential for designating any human cardiac stem cells as a human cardiac stem cell therapy product for investigational new drug (IND)-filing and entry into clinical trials. So far, the therapeutic effects, if any, of human cardiac stem cells in the existing market, including those derived from patients’ heart tissues, were mediated by protective or tropic mechanism to rescue dying host cardiomyocytes, but not related to myocardium regeneration.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Opportunity: Recent breakthrough stem cell technologies have demonstrated the direct pharmacologic utility and capacity of pluripotent human embryonic stem cell (hESC) therapy derivatives for human CNS and myocardium regeneration and, thus, have presented the hESC cell therapy derivatives as a powerful pharmacologic agent of cellular entity for a wide range of CNS and heart diseases. The hESC cardiomyocyte cell therapy derivatives by novel small molecule induction provide a large scale of high quality human cardiomyocyte source for myocardium regeneration and, thus, meet the designation of human stem cell therapy products in plasticity, specificity, and stability for commercial development and human trials or first-in-human studies in cardiovascular diseases.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Xuejun Parsons

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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Immunologic Treatment of Hematologic Malignancies

How can the effectiveness of existing curative therapies be improved for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation?

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

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Much remains to be understood about immunotherapies in order to facilitate their broad use in the treatment of hematologic disorders. While studies to date have demonstrated significant potential applications, longer-term studies are necessary to further improve the profile of these therapies, including enhancing their overall efficacy while reducing associated toxicities. The efficacy of existing curative therapies can be enhanced by evaluating the mechanisms involved in producing cytokine release syndrome; a condition which has been observed in several patients receiving this therapy. Furthermore, a careful grading scheme to predict toxicity so as to guide the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies is also required. Target identification is another important issue to advance the field. While targeting CD19 appears to be promising, it results in loss of B-cell immunity and requires prolonged immunoglobulin replacement therapies and/or allo-transplantation and new immunologic targets need to be identified in both B cell and T cell malignancies as was as acute and chronic myeloid leukemias. Minimizing the off-tumor target-mediated toxicity of both CAR T-cell and checkpoint blockade therapies would help optimize their utility.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Alice Kuaban on behalf of the American Society of Hematology (ASH)

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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Exploring Future Cardiovascular Medicine: Heart Precursors Directed from Human Embryonic Stem Cells for Myocardium Regeneration

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major health problem and the leading cause of death in the Western world. Currently, there is no treatment option or compound drug of molecular entity that can change the prognosis of CVD.

Submitted by (@xuejunparsons)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

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The human stem cell is emerging as a new type of pharmacologic agent of cellular entity that is much more complex in structure, function, and activity than the conventional drug of molecular entity, which is usually comprised of simple chemicals or compounds. Since the etiologies of most diseases that involve both molecular and cellular processes are much more complex than simple chemicals or molecules, conventional chemical drugs are often severely limited by the molecular entity of the compound that usually targets or blocks certain pathological molecular pathways, which would otherwise be harmful to common molecular pathways shared in normal cellular processes of vital tissues and organs, thus, cause severe toxic side effects that may outweigh the benefits. For instance, a drug for weight loss may cause severe damage to the heart. In addition, the therapeutic effects of conventional drugs of molecular entity provide only temporary or short-term symptomatic relief but cannot change the prognosis of disease. As a result, millions of molecular leads generated in mainstream of biomedical research from animal studies and studies of other lower organisms have vanished before even reach clinical trials, or for a few lucky ones, in clinical trials. In the last few decades, despite of many animal leads, no drug of molecular entity has ever been approved by FDA as a new treatment for heart disease and failure for humans.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Opportunity: In contrast, the human stem cell has the potential for human tissue and function restoration that the conventional drug of molecular entity lacks. The ability of a human stem cell, by definition, to both self-renew and differentiation makes it a practically inexhaustible source of replacement cells for many devastating or fatal diseases that have been considered as incurable, such as neurodegenerative diseases and heart diseases. The pharmacologic activity of human stem cells is measured by their extraordinary cellular ability to regenerate the tissue or organ that has been damaged or lost, such as the heart in the case of human cardiac stem cells. Therefore, the pharmacologic utility of human stem cells cannot be satisfied only by their chaperone activity, if any, to produce trophic or protective molecules to rescue existing endogenous host cells that can simply be accomplished by a drug of molecular entity. The embryo-originated human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are not only pluripotent, but also incredibly stable and positive, proffering unique revenue to generate a large supply of cardiac lineage-committed stem/precursor/progenitor cells as well as functional cardiomyocytes as adequate human myocardial grafts for cell-based therapy. Currently, the hESC cardiomyocyte therapy derivatives provide the only available human cell sources with adequate capacity to regenerate the contractile heart muscles, vital for heart repair in the clinical setting.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Xuejun Parsons

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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Gene therapy in HLBS disorders

How can we utilize gene therapy to cure or ameliorate HLBS disorders?

Submitted by (@barbarak)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

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Long term benefit for disorders

Challenge in application to diverse disorders

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Technology exists for many disorders.

Balance between risk for long term benefit vs. current therapy

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Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Gene Therapy for Rare Lung Diseases

Accelerating the research to find suitable viral vectors and delivery systems to inhale gene therapy deeply into the lungs. Distal therapy is important for several fatal lung diseases. This is urgent and critical research.

Submitted by (@dappell)

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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Current State of Regenerative Medicine: Moving Stem Cell Research from Animals into Humans for Clinical Trials

Realizing the developmental and therapeutic potential of pluripotent human embryonic stem cell (hESC) derivatives has been hindered by the inefficiency and instability of generating clinically-relevant functional cells from pluripotent cells through conventional uncontrollable and incomplete multi-lineage differentiation.

Submitted by (@xuejunparsons)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

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Realizing the developmental and therapeutic potential of pluripotent human embryonic stem cell (hESC) derivatives has been hindered by the inefficiency and instability of generating clinically-relevant functional cells from pluripotent cells through conventional uncontrollable and incomplete multi-lineage differentiation. Conventional approaches rely on multi-lineage inclination of pluripotent cells through spontaneous germ layer differentiation, resulting in inefficient, incomplete, and uncontrollable lineage-commitment that is often followed by phenotypic heterogeneity and instability, hence, a high risk of tumorigenicity. In addition, undefined foreign or animal biological supplements and/or feeders that have typically been used for the isolation, expansion, and differentiation of hESCs may make direct use of such cell-specialized grafts in patients problematic.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Opportunity: Recent technology breakthroughs in hESC research have overcome some major obstacles in bringing hESC therapy derivatives towards clinical applications, including establishing defined culture systems for derivation and maintenance of clinical-grade pluripotent hESC and lineage-specific differentiation of pluripotent hESC by small molecule induction. Such milestone advances and medical innovations in hESC research enable direct conversion of pluripotent hESC into a large supply of homogeneous populations of clinical-grade hESC neuronal and heart cell therapy products for developing safe and effective stem cell therapies. Currently, these hESC neuronal and cardiomyocyte therapy derivatives are the only available human cell sources with adequate capacity to regenerate neurons and contractile heart muscles, vital for CNS and heart repair in the clinical setting.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Xuejun Parsons

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Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Develop Targeted Therapeutics to Treat Venous Thrombosis and Inflammation in Venous Thromboembolism

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) afflicts nearly a million Americans yearly, has a mortality of 6-12% and has costs of more than $15 billion. Current treatment regimens, systemic anticoagulation and compression stockings, fail patients in multiple ways: risk of major bleeding episodes; failure of clot resolution in up to 50% of patients; failure to prevent the development of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) in up to 40% of ...more »

Submitted by (@chanduvem)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

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Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is a common disease with established treatment regimens that have been repeatedly proven to fail patients. The disease process affects a million Americans, and projections are that this will increase to 1.82 million by 2050. VTE affects a wide range of the U.S. population including young pregnant women, cancer patients ,hospitalized patients and the ever expanding elderly sector. Despite recent advances the incidence of the disease is unchanged and treatment failures include failure to resolve clot, failure to prevent long-term recurrence and failure to treat vein wall inflammation which results in the development of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) in up to 40% of patients. There are significant complications from the approved systemic treatment regimens including bleeding from anticoagulation therapy and potentially fatal complications from inferior vena cava filters. In cases of severe chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a common sequela of VTE, quality of life survey results mirror those of chronic lung disease, coronary disease and debilitating arthritis. The cost of VTE is nearly $15.5 billion in the U.S. alone. PTS significantly affects patients and up to 42% of patients lose workdays with a cost per patient of $11,667 and a cost to the overall system of $16 billion. Addressing this critical challenge will help to decrease mortality and morbidity in a large, active sector of the U.S. population and save the healthcare system billions.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

This critical challenge comes at an opportune time as multiple platforms for targeted therapies have been tested, proven to be efficacious and nearing approval for use in patients. Basic science research in venous thrombosis has advanced significantly with well established in-vitro and in-vivo models. Furthermore, significant work has been done to reveal multiple targets for clot resolution and for the treatment of vein wall inflammation. Thus the critical information is known and therapeutics available to make addressing this challenge highly feasible.

There will be challenges to addressing this clinical need. The first challenge may be developing and/or identifying the most relevant animal model. There are multiple established animal models and these may need to be modified to provide the best simulation of the clinical situation being addressed. Secondly, there are multiple delivery platforms that would be suitable to this project including nanomedicine based therapies. These would have to be optimized and tested in this research realm and then would need FDA approval . Lastly, following pre-clinical studies it will take large scale clinical studies to prove the efficacy and then require re-education to adopt this approach in the treatment of patients with thrombosis. Fortunately understanding and addressing these challenges will ultimately result in an improved therapy for patients with venous thromboembolism.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Chandu Vemuri

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