Neurturin (NTN) is a neurotrophic factor for dopaminergic neurons that may be therapeutic for patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). As a crucial component in a series of nonclinical translational studies aimed at testing whether CERE-120 should advance into clinical trials in PD subjects, we characterized the expression, bioactivity and safety of CERE-120, an adeno-associated virus type-2 (AAV2) vector encoding NTN, following delivery to the striatum of nonhuman primates. Monkeys received bilateral injections of CERE-120 across a tenfold range of doses (6 x 10(10) to 6 x 10(11) vector genomes per animal) or formulation buffer (FB) control. We report here, for the first time, a dose-related: increase in NTN protein expression within the striatum and substantia nigra (SN) pars compacta of nonhuman primates; increase in nigrostriatal tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), (the rate-limited enzyme for dopamine); and activation of phosphorylated signal-regulated kinase (a common neurotrophic signaling event). Additionally, extensive toxicology testing revealed no adverse effects of CERE-120 on in-life measures, neurotoxicity (in any site throughout the brain) or systemic pathology (in any organ or tissue) across the tenfold range of doses. Collectively, these data provide substantial novel evidence for the potential utility of CERE-120 as a novel treatment for PD and support ongoing clinical trials testing CERE-120 in PD patients.
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