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Hovden A.-O.,University of Bergen | Hovden A.-O.,Bionor Pharma | Karlsen M.,University of Bergen | Jonsson R.,University of Bergen | Appel S.,University of Bergen
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Dendritic cells (DC) used in therapeutic cancer immunotherapy have to be able to stimulate T cells resulting in an immune response that can efficiently target the cancer cells. One of the critical hurdles has been the lack of IL-12p70 production when maturating the DC, which is rectified by using the bacterial preparation OK432 (trade name Picibanil) to mature the cells. In order to identify the mechanism behind OK432 stimulation of DC, we investigated the contribution of different TLR to examine their involvement in IL-12p70 production. By combining different inhibitors of TLR signaling, we demonstrate here that TLR3 is responsible for the IL-12p70 production of DC induced by OK432. Moreover, our data suggest that the ligand triggering IL-12p70 secretion upon TLR3 stimulation is sensitive to proteinase and partly also RNAse treatment. The fact that a bacterial compound like OK432 can activate the TLR3 pathway in human DC is a novel finding. OK432 demonstrates a critical ability to induce IL-12p70 production, which is of great relevance in DC based cancer immunotherapy. © 2012 Hovden et al.

Sprater F.,University of Bergen | Hovden A.-O.,University of Bergen | Hovden A.-O.,Bionor Pharma | Appel S.,University of Bergen
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Dendritic cells (DC) are the only hematopoietic cells expressing the epithelial specific Ets transcription factor ESE-3. Here we analyzed presence and quantity of isoforms ESE-3a, ESE-3b and ESE-3j in various immunogenic and tolerogenic human monocyte-derived DC (moDC) and blood DC populations using quantitative real time PCR and immunoblot analyses. ESE-3a and ESE-3b were detectable in all moDC populations with ESE-3b being the main transcript. ESE-3b expression was upregulated in immunogenic moDC and downregulated in tolerogenic moDC compared to immature moDC. ESE-3a had similar transcript levels in immature and immunogenic moDC and had very low levels in tolerogenic moDC. In blood DC populations only splice variant ESE-3b was detectable. ESE-3j was not detectable in any of the DC populations. These findings suggest that ESE-3b is the functionally most important ESE-3 isoform in DC. © 2012 Sprater et al.

Munack S.,University of Oslo | Leroux V.,University of Oslo | Leroux V.,University of Bordeaux Segalen | Leroux V.,Bionor Pharma | And 9 more authors.
Chemistry and Biodiversity | Year: 2012

Tuberculosis (TB) is a devastating disease that claims millions of lives every year. Hindered access or non-compliance to medication, especially in developing countries, led to drug resistance, further aggravating the situation. With current standard therapies in use for over 50 years and only few new candidates in clinical trials, there is an urgent call for new TB drugs. A powerful tool for the development of new medication is structure-guided design, combined with virtual screening or docking studies. Here, we report the results of a drug-design project, which we based on a publication that claimed the structure-guided discovery of several promising and highly active inhibitors targeting the secreted chorismate mutase (*MtCM) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We set out to further improve on these compounds and synthesized a series of new derivatives. Thorough evaluation of these molecules in enzymatic assays revealed, to our dismay, that neither the claimed lead compounds, nor any of the synthesized derivatives, show any inhibitory effects against MtCM. © 2012 Verlag Helvetica Chimica Acta AG, Zürich.

Pollard R.B.,University of California at Davis | Rockstroh J.K.,Universitatsklinikum Bonn | Pantaleo G.,University of Lausanne | Asmuth D.M.,University of California at Davis | And 26 more authors.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases | Year: 2014

Background: Present combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) alone does not cure HIV infection and requires lifelong drug treatment. The potential role of HIV therapeutic vaccines as part of an HIV cure is under consideration. Our aim was to assess the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of Vacc-4x, a peptide-based HIV-1 therapeutic vaccine targeting conserved domains on p24Gag, in adults infected with HIV-1. Methods: Between July, 2008, and June, 2010, we did a multinational double-blind, randomised, phase 2 study comparing Vacc-4x with placebo. Participants were adults infected with HIV-1 who were aged 18-55 years and virologically suppressed on cART (viral load <50 copies per mL) with CD4 cell counts of 400 × 106 cells per L or greater. The trial was done at 18 sites in Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the USA. Participants were randomly assigned (2:1) to Vacc-4x or placebo. Group allocation was masked from participants and investigators. Four primary immunisations, weekly for 4 weeks, containing Vacc-4x (or placebo) were given intradermally after administration of adjuvant. Booster immunisations were given at weeks 16 and 18. At week 28, cART was interrupted for up to 24 weeks. The coprimary endpoints were cART resumption and changes in CD4 counts during treatment interruption. Analyses were by modified intention to treat: all participants who received one intervention. Furthermore, safety, viral load, and immunogenicity (as measured by ELISPOT and proliferation assays) were assessed. The 52 week follow-up period was completed in June, 2011. For the coprimary endpoints the proportion of participants who met the criteria for cART resumption was analysed with a logistic regression model with the treatment effect being assessed in a model including country as a covariate. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00659789. Findings: 174 individuals were screened; because of slow recruitment, enrolment stopped with 136 of a planned 345 participants and 93 were randomly assigned to receive Vacc-4x and 43 to receive placebo. There were no differences between the two groups for the primary efficacy endpoints in those participants who stopped cART at week 28. Of the participants who resumed cART, 30 (34%) were in the Vacc-4x group and 11 (29%) in the placebo group, and percentage changes in CD4 counts were not significant (mean treatment difference -5·71, 95% CI -13·01 to 1·59). However, a significant difference in viral load was noted for the Vacc-4x group both at week 48 (median 23 100 copies per mL Vacc-4x vs 71 800 copies per mL placebo; p=0·025) and week 52 (median 19 550 copies per mL vs 51 000 copies per mL; p=0·041). One serious adverse event, exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, was reported as possibly related to study treatment. Vacc-4x was immunogenic, inducing proliferative responses in both CD4 and CD8 T-cell populations. Interpretation: The proportion of participants resuming cART before end of study and change in CD4 counts during the treatment interruption showed no benefit of vaccination. Vacc-4x was safe, well tolerated, immunogenic, seemed to contribute to a viral-load setpoint reduction after cART interruption, and might be worth consideration in future HIV-cure investigative strategies. Funding: Norwegian Research Council GLOBVAC Program and Bionor Pharma ASA. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Lind A.,University of Oslo | Sommerfelt M.,Bionor Pharma | Holmberg J.O.,Bionor Pharma | Baksaas I.,Mericon AS | And 2 more authors.
Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases | Year: 2012

Background: Vacc-4x contains 4 HIV p24-like short peptides. In a previous phase II trial this immunized 90% of 38 patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART) after intradermal delivery in conjunction with local granulocytemacrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) as adjuvant. In this study, 22 responders were retested for cellular memory at a median 7.3 y after their last immunization. All had resumed effective ART after an interspersed ART-free median interval of 2.2 y. Methods: Vacc-4x as 15-mer overlapping by 2 amino acid panels and Vacc-4x consensus peptide sequences (4xCP) were used as antigens. Proliferation was determined as percentages of CFSEdimHLA-DR + 7AAD - CD3+ T cells of the CD4+ and CD8+ subsets after 6 days of culture. Frequencies of specific T cells in 6-h cultures were determined by interferon-γ (IFN) + CD4+ and IFN+ CD8+, as well as degranulating bifunctional CD107a + IFN+ CD8+ subsets. Results: Proliferative CD4+ and CD8+ responses to Vacc-4x as well as 4xCP were still present in 95% and 68%, respectively. Proliferation correlated with the Vacc-4x delayed-type hypersensitivity test (DTH) obtained after completed immunizations (CD4 + r = 0.63 (p = 0.002) and CD8 + r = 0.47 (p = 0.03)), suggesting that they represent T cell memory recall responses. The proliferative CD8 and possibly CD4 subset responses to 4xCP peptides correlated with Vacc-4x (r = 0.46 (p = 0.03) and r = 0.38 (p = 0.08), respectively). Forty-one percent still had Vacc-4x-specific IFN + CD4+ T cells, which correlated to corresponding frequencies of 4xCP peptides (r = 0.50, p = 0.02). CD107a+ IFN + CD8+ T cell responses against Vacc-4x were found in 55%. Conclusions: Evidence of long-lasting T cell memory recall responses to a peptide-based immunotherapeutic candidate for HIV-infected patients should enhance the focus on peptide-based intradermal vaccine delivery. © 2012 Informa Healthcare.

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