Author(s): Gilbert JC, Takada T, Stein JE, Langer R, Vacanti JP
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Abstract Many severe metabolic deficiencies in children are caused by a single gene defect with a resultant single gene product deficiency. These diseases may be amenable to permanent cure using new techniques of gene transfer and cell transplantation. In many in vivo models of retroviral mediated gene therapy, a significant limiting factor is the ability to transplant a sufficient number of modified cells. To potentially circumvent this problem, we have developed a biodegradable polymer implant system capable of supporting large numbers of genetically modified cells. In this study, we inserted a reporter gene into syngeneic cultured normal fibroblasts and then transplanted these genetically modified cells into animals using synthetic biodegradable polymer fibers as temporary cell delivery scaffolds. To begin to develop a system capable of delivering desirable proteins secreted by genetically modified cells, Fischer 344 adult rat fibroblasts were transduced in tissue culture with a retrovirus containing the reporter gene Lac Z. These genetically modified cells (1.1 x 10(7) cells/graft) were then attached to the biodegradable polymer fibers and the polymer-cell graft was transplanted subdermally into syngeneic recipients (n = 9). There was persistence of the modified cells with expression of the reporter gene for at least 30 days. The estimated number of genetically modified cells per implanted graft decreased from a pretransplant value of 1.1 +/- 0.6 x 10(7) to 3.2 +/- 0.7 x 10(6) by 15 days after transplantation (P < 0.01). Thereafter, the cell number did not vary significantly to the conclusion of the study at day 30 (3.6 +/- 1.0 x 10(6) cells/graft). Evidence of ingrowth and incorporation of other stromal elements was present in the graft by 1 week post-transplantation, as judged by counterstained hematoxylin and eosin micrograph sections. Migration of modified cells to areas outside of the polymer-cell graft was not detected. Over the course of the study, there was little degradation of the polymer implant, although by day 30, evidence of early dissolution was evident. The number of polymer fibers per high power field increased slightly from 62.5 +/- 5.8 on day 1 to 77.3 +/- 26.6 on day 30 (P > 0.2). These data suggest that the use of biodegradable polymer fibers may permit the transplantation of genetically modified cells in sufficient numbers to deliver a therapeutically useful product. Polymer matrices allow for the attachment and site-specific transplantation of genetically modified cells.
This article was published in Transplantation
and referenced in Journal of Bioengineering & Biomedical Science