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Therapeutic exon skipping as a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) has largely concentrated on the delivery of antisense oligomers to treat out-of-frame exon deletions. Here we report on the preclinical development of an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-encapsidated viral vector containing four copies of the noncoding U7 small nuclear RNA (U7snRNA), each targeted to either the splice donor or the splice acceptor sites of DMD exon 2. We have previously shown that delivery of this vector (scAAV9.U7.ACCA) to the Dup2 mouse model results in expression of full-length dystrophin from wild-type DMD mRNA, as well as an internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-driven isoform translated only in the absence of exon 2 (deletion exon 2 [Del2] mRNA). Here we present the data from a rigorous dose escalation toxicity study in nonhuman primates, encompassing two doses (3 × 1013 and 8 × 1013 vg/kg) and two time points (3 and 6 months postinjection). No evidence for significant toxicity was seen by biochemical, histopathologic, or clinical measures, providing evidence for safety that led to initiation of a first-in-human clinical trial.


Liubov V Gushchina, Emma C Frair, Natalie Rohan, Adrienne J Bradley, Tabatha R Simmons, Hemantkumar D Chavan, Hsin-Jung Chou, Michelle Eggers, Megan A Waldrop, Nicolas Wein, Kevin M Flanigan. Lack of Toxicity in Nonhuman Primates Receiving Clinically Relevant Doses of an AAV9.U7snRNA Vector Designed to Induce DMD Exon 2 Skipping. Human gene therapy. 2021 Sep;32(17-18):882-894

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PMID: 33406986

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