Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC) is developing a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vector expressing the human CNGA3 gene designated AGTC-402 (rAAV2tYF-PR1.7-hCNGA3) for the treatment of achromatopsia, an inherited retinal disorder characterized by markedly reduced visual acuity, extreme light sensitivity, and absence of color discrimination. The results are herein reported of a study evaluating safety and efficacy of AGTC-402 in CNGA3-deficient sheep. Thirteen day-blind sheep divided into three groups of four or five animals each received a subretinal injection of an AAV vector expressing a CNGA3 gene in a volume of 500 μL in the right eye. Two groups (n = 9) received either a lower or higher dose of the AGTC-402 vector, and one efficacy control group (n = 4) received a vector similar in design to one previously shown to rescue cone photoreceptor responses in the day-blind sheep model (rAAV5-PR2.1-hCNGA3). The left eye of each animal received a subretinal injection of 500 μL of vehicle (n = 4) or was untreated (n = 9). Subretinal injections were generally well tolerated and not associated with systemic toxicity. Most animals had mild to moderate conjunctival hyperemia, chemosis, and subconjunctival hemorrhage immediately after surgery that generally resolved by postoperative day 7. Two animals treated with the higher dose of AGTC-402 and three of the efficacy control group animals had microscopic findings of outer retinal atrophy with or without inflammatory cells in the retina and choroid that were procedural and/or test-article related. All vector-treated eyes showed improved cone-mediated electroretinography responses with no change in rod-mediated electroretinography responses. Behavioral maze testing under photopic conditions showed significantly improved navigation times and reduced numbers of obstacle collisions in all vector-treated eyes compared to their contralateral control eyes or pre-dose results in the treated eyes. These results support the use of AGTC-402 in clinical studies in patients with achromatopsia caused by CNGA3 mutations, with careful evaluation for possible inflammatory and/or toxic effects.
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© 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.