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2933 Efficient Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery of Gene Editing Reagents into Human Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 801. Gene Therapies: Poster II
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Clinical Practice (Health Services and Quality), Technology and Procedures, gene editing
Sunday, December 12, 2021, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Rkia El Kharrag, PhD*, Kurt Berckmueller*, Margaret Cui*, Ravishankar Madhu*, Anai M Perez*, Olivier Humbert, PhD*, Hans-Peter Kiem, MD PhD and Stefan Radtke, PhD

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA

Autologous hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy has the potential to cure millions of patients suffering from hematological diseases and disorders. Recent HSCs gene therapy trials using CRISPR/Cas9 nucleases to treat sickle cell disease (SCD) have shown promising results paving the way for gene editing approaches for other diseases. However, current applications depend on expensive and rare GMP facilities for the manipulation of HSCs ex vivo. Consequently, this promising treatment option remains inaccessible to many patients especially in low- and middle-income settings. HSC-targeted in vivo delivery of gene therapy reagents could overcome this bottleneck and thereby enhance the portability and availability of gene therapy.

Various kinds of nanoparticles (lipid, gold, polymer, etc.) are currently used to develop targeted ex vivo as well as in vivo gene therapy approaches. We have previously shown that poly (β-amino ester) (PBAE)-based nanoparticle (NP) formulations can be used to efficiently deliver mRNA into human T cells and umbilical cord blood-derived CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) (Moffet et al. 2017, Nature Communications). Here, we optimized our NP formulation to deliver mRNA into GCSF-mobilized adult human CD34+ HSPCs, a more clinically relevant and frequently used cell source for ex vivo and the primary target for in vivo gene therapy. Furthermore, we specifically focused on the evaluation of NP-mediated delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing reagents. The efficiency of our NP-mediated delivery of gene editing reagents was comprehensively tested in comparison to electroporation, the current experimental, pre-clinical as well as clinical standard for gene editing. Most important for the clinical translation of this technology, we defined quality control parameters for NPs, identified standards that can predict the editing efficiency, and established protocols to lyophilize and store formulated NPs for enhanced portability and future in vivo applications.

Nanoformulations were loaded with Cas9 ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes to knock out CD33, an established strategy in our lab to protect HSCs from anti-CD33 targeted acute myeloid leukemia (AML) immunotherapy (Humbert et al. 2019, Leukemia). RNP-loaded NPs were evaluated for size and charge to correlate physiochemical properties with the outcome as well as establish quality control standards. NPs passing the QC were incubated with human GCSF-mobilized CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). In parallel, RNPs were delivered into CD34+ cells using our established EP protocol. NP- and EP-edited CD34+ cells were evaluated phenotypically by flow cytometry and functionally in colony-forming cell (CFC) assays as well as in NSG xenograft model.

The optimal characteristics for RNP-loaded NPs were determined at 150-250 nm and 25-35 mV. Physiochemical assessment of RNP-loaded NP formations provided an upfront quality control of RNP components reliably detecting degraded components. Most importantly, NP charge directly correlated with the editing efficiency (Figure A). NPs achieved more than 85% CD33 knockout using 3-fold lower dose of CRISPR nucleases compared to EP. No impact on the erythromyeloid differentiation potential of gene-edited cells in CFC assays was observed. Finally, NP-modified CD34+ cells showed efficient and sustained gene editing in vivo with improved long-term multilineage engraftment potential in the peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow stem cell compartment of NSG mice in comparison to EP-edited cells (Figure B).

Here we show that PBAE-NPs enable efficient CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing of human GCSF-mobilized CD34+ cells without compromising the viability and long-term multilineage engraftment of human HSPCs in vivo. Most importantly, we defined physiochemical properties of PBAE-NPs that enable us to not only determine the integrity of our gene-editing agents but also predict the efficiency of editing in HSPCs. The requirement of 3-fold less reagents compared to EP, the ability to lyophilize quality-controlled and ready to administer gene therapy reagents, and the opportunity to engineer the surface of PBAE-NPs with HSC-targeting molecules (e.g. antibodies) could make this also a highly attractive and portable editing platform for in vivo HSC gene therapy.

Disclosures: Kiem: VOR Biopharma: Consultancy; Homology Medicines: Consultancy; Ensoma Inc.: Consultancy, Current holder of individual stocks in a privately-held company. Radtke: Ensoma Inc.: Consultancy; 47 Inc.: Consultancy.

*signifies non-member of ASH