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Publication numberUS20130202684 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 13/819,077
PCT numberPCT/US2011/050095
Publication date8 Aug 2013
Filing date31 Aug 2011
Priority date31 Aug 2010
Also published asCA2809851A1, CN103179984A, EP2611461A1, WO2012031043A1
Publication number13819077, 819077, PCT/2011/50095, PCT/US/11/050095, PCT/US/11/50095, PCT/US/2011/050095, PCT/US/2011/50095, PCT/US11/050095, PCT/US11/50095, PCT/US11050095, PCT/US1150095, PCT/US2011/050095, PCT/US2011/50095, PCT/US2011050095, PCT/US201150095, US 2013/0202684 A1, US 2013/202684 A1, US 20130202684 A1, US 20130202684A1, US 2013202684 A1, US 2013202684A1, US-A1-20130202684, US-A1-2013202684, US2013/0202684A1, US2013/202684A1, US20130202684 A1, US20130202684A1, US2013202684 A1, US2013202684A1
InventorsAndrew Geall, Ayush Verma
Original AssigneeLichtstrasse
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pegylated liposomes for delivery of immunogen encoding rna
US 20130202684 A1
Abstract
Nucleic acid immunisation is achieved by delivering RNA encapsulated within a PEGylated liposome. The RNA encodes an immunogen of interest. The PEG has an average molecular mass of between 1 kDa and 3 kDa. Thus the invention provides a liposome having a lipid bilayer encapsulating an aqueous core, wherein: (i) the lipid bilayer comprises at least one lipid which includes a polyethylene glycol moiety, such that polyethylene glycol is present on the liposome's exterior, wherein the average molecular mass of the polyethylene glycol is between 1 kDa and 3 kDa; and (ii) the aqueous core includes a RNA which encodes an immunogen. These liposomes are suitable for in vivo delivery of the RNA to a vertebrate cell and so they are useful as components in pharmaceutical compositions for immunising subjects against various diseases.
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Claims(16)
1. A liposome within which RNA encoding an immunogen of interest is encapsulated, wherein the liposome comprises at least one lipid which includes a polyethylene glycol moiety, such that polyethylene glycol is present on the liposome's exterior, wherein the average molecular mass of the polyethylene glycol is between 1 kDa and 3 kDa.
2. The liposome of claim 1, comprising PEG-DMG and/or a lipid of formula (X).
3. The liposome of claim 1, wherein the liposome has a diameter in the range of 80-160 nm.
4. The liposome of claim 1, wherein the liposome comprises a lipid with a cationic head group.
5. The liposome of claim 1, wherein the liposome comprises a lipid with a zwitterionic head group.
6. The liposome of claim 1, wherein the RNA is a self-replicating RNA.
7. The liposome of claim 6, wherein the self-replicating RNA encodes (i) a RNA-dependent RNA polymerase which can transcribe RNA from the self-replicating RNA molecule and (ii) an immunogen.
8. The liposome of claim 7, wherein the self-replicating RNA has two open reading frames, the first of which encodes an alphavirus replicase and the second of which encodes the immunogen.
9. The liposome of claim 6, wherein the self-replicating RNA is 9000-12000 nucleotides long.
10. The liposome of claim 1, wherein the immunogen can elicit an immune response in vivo against a bacterium, a virus, a fungus or a parasite.
11. A pharmaceutical composition comprising a liposome of claim 1.
12. A method for raising a protective immune response in a vertebrate, comprising the step of administering to the vertebrate an effective amount of the liposome of claim 1.
13. The liposome of claim 2, wherein the liposome has a diameter in the range of 80-160 nm.
14. The liposome of claim 13, wherein the liposome comprises a lipid with a cationic head group.
15. The liposome of claim 13, wherein the liposome comprises a lipid with a zwitterionic head group.
16. The liposome of claim 13, wherein the RNA is a self-replicating RNA.
Description
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application number 61/378,826, which was filed Aug. 31, 2010, the complete contents of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • [0002]
    This invention is in the field of non-viral delivery of RNA for immunisation.
  • BACKGROUND ART
  • [0003]
    The delivery of nucleic acids for immunising animals has been a goal for several years. Various approaches have been tested, including the use of DNA or RNA, of viral or non-viral delivery vehicles (or even no delivery vehicle, in a “naked” vaccine), of replicating or non-replicating vectors, or of viral or non-viral vectors.
  • [0004]
    There remains a need for further and improved nucleic acid vaccines and, in particular, for improved ways of delivering nucleic acid vaccines.
  • DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
  • [0005]
    According to the invention, nucleic acid immunisation is achieved by delivering RNA encapsulated within a liposome. The RNA encodes an immunogen of interest. The liposome includes a PEGylated lipid i.e. the lipid is modified by covalent attachment of a polyethylene glycol. PEG provides the liposomes with a coat which can confer favourable pharmacokinetic characteristics e.g. it can increase stability and prevent non-specific adsorption of the liposomes. The inventors have found that the length of the PEG can affect in vivo expression of encapsulated RNA and so the invention uses liposomes which comprise PEG which has an average molecular mass of between 1 kDa and 3 kDa. PEG with a lower molecular weight (e.g. 500 or 750 Da) does not form stable liposomes.
  • [0006]
    Thus the invention provides a liposome within which RNA encoding an immunogen of interest is encapsulated, wherein the liposome comprises at least one lipid which includes a polyethylene glycol moiety, such that polyethylene glycol is present on the liposome's exterior, wherein the average molecular mass of the polyethylene glycol is between 1 kDa and 3 kDa. These liposomes are suitable for in vivo delivery of the RNA to a vertebrate cell and so they are useful as components in pharmaceutical compositions for immunising subjects against various diseases.
  • [0007]
    The invention also provides a process for preparing a RNA-containing liposome, comprising a step of mixing RNA with one or more lipids, under conditions such that the lipids form a liposome in which the RNA is encapsulated, wherein at least one lipid includes a polyethylene glycol moiety which becomes located on the liposome's exterior during the process, and wherein the average molecular mass of the polyethylene glycol is between 1 kDa and 3 kDa.
  • [0008]
    The liposome
  • [0009]
    The invention utilises liposomes within which immunogen-encoding RNA is encapsulated. Thus the RNA is (as in a natural virus) separated from any external medium. Encapsulation within the liposome has been found to protect RNA from RNase digestion. The liposomes can include some external RNA (e.g. on their surface), but at least half of the RNA (and ideally all of it) is encapsulated in the liposome's core. Encapsulation within liposomes is distinct from, for instance, the lipid/RNA complexes disclosed in reference 1, where RNA is mixed with pre-formed liposomes.
  • [0010]
    Various amphiphilic lipids can form bilayers in an aqueous environment to encapsulate a RNA-containing aqueous core as a liposome. These lipids can have an anionic, cationic or zwitterionic hydrophilic head group. Formation of liposomes from anionic phospholipids dates back to the 1960s, and cationic liposome-forming lipids have been studied since the 1990s. Some phospholipids are anionic whereas other are zwitterionic and others are cationic. Suitable classes of phospholipid include, but are not limited to, phosphatidylethanolamines, phosphatidylcholines, phosphatidylserines, and phosphatidyl-glycerols, and some useful phospholipids are listed in Table 1. Useful cationic lipids include, but are not limited to, dioleoyl trimethylammonium propane (DOTAP), 1,2-distearyloxy-N,N-dimethyl-3-aminopropane (DSDMA), 1,2-dioleyloxy-N,Ndimethyl-3-aminopropane (DODMA), 1,2-dilinoleyloxy-N,N-dimethyl-3-aminopropane (DLinDMA), 1,2-dilinolenyloxy-N,N-dimethyl-3-aminopropane (DLenDMA). Zwitterionic lipids include, but are not limited to, acyl zwitterionic lipids and ether zwitterionic lipids. Examples of useful zwitterionic lipids are DPPC, DOPC, DSPC, dodecylphosphocholine, 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE), and 1,2-diphytanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (DPyPE). The lipids can be saturated or unsaturated. The use of at least one unsaturated lipid for preparing liposomes is preferred. If an unsaturated lipid has two tails, both tails can be unsaturated, or it can have one saturated tail and one unsaturated tail. A lipid can include a steroid group in one tail e.g. as in RV05.
  • [0011]
    Thus in one embodiment the invention provides a liposome having a lipid bilayer encapsulating an aqueous core, wherein: (i) the lipid bilayer comprises at least one lipid which includes a polyethylene glycol moiety, such that polyethylene glycol is present on the liposome's exterior, wherein the average molecular mass of the polyethylene glycol is between 1 kDa and 3 kDa; and (ii) the aqueous core includes a RNA which encodes an immunogen.
  • [0012]
    Liposomes of the invention can be formed from a single lipid or from a mixture of lipids. A mixture may comprise (i) a mixture of anionic lipids (ii) a mixture of cationic lipids (iii) a mixture of zwitterionic lipids (iv) a mixture of anionic lipids and cationic lipids (v) a mixture of anionic lipids and zwitterionic lipids (vi) a mixture of zwitterionic lipids and cationic lipids or (vii) a mixture of anionic lipids, cationic lipids and zwitterionic lipids. Similarly, a mixture may comprise both saturated and unsaturated lipids. For example, a mixture may comprise DSPC (zwitterionic, saturated), DlinDMA (cationic, unsaturated), and/or DMG (anionic, saturated). Where a mixture of lipids is used, not all of the component lipids in the mixture need to be amphiphilic e.g. one or more amphiphilic lipids can be mixed with cholesterol.
  • [0013]
    Where a liposome of the invention is formed from a mixture of lipids, it is preferred that the proportion of those lipids which are PEGylated as described herein is less than 10% of the total amount of lipids e.g. between 0.5-5%, between 1-4%, or abbut 2%. For instance, useful liposomes are shown below in which 2% of the total lipid is a PEG-DMG. The remainder can be made of e.g. cholesterol (e.g. 35-50% cholesterol) and/or cationic lipid (e.g. 30-70%) and/or DSPC (e.g. 5-15%). Such mixtures are used below. These percentage values are mole percentages.
  • [0014]
    Thus a liposome can be formed from a cationic lipid (e.g. DlinDMA, RV05), a zwitterionic lipid (e.g. DSPC, DPyPE), a cholesterol, and a PEGylated lipid. A mixture of DSPC, DlinDMA, PEG-DMG and cholesterol is used in the examples, as well as several further mixtures.
  • [0015]
    At least one lipid within the liposome includes a polyethylene glycol moiety. Liposomes which include these PEGylated lipids will have PEG oriented so that it is present on at least the exterior of the liposome (but some PEG may also be exposed to the liposome's interior i.e. to the aqueous core). This orientation can be achieved by attaching the PEG to an appropriate part of the lipid. For instance, in an amphiphilic lipid the PEG would be attached to the hydrophilic head, as it is this head which orients itself to the lipid bilayer's aqueous-facing exterior. PEGylation in this way can be achieved by covalent attachment of a PEG to a lipid e.g. using techniques such as those disclosed in reference 2 and 3.
  • [0016]
    Thus the PEGylated lipids will comprise the PEG structure:
  • [0000]
  • [0000]
    where n provides a molecular weight for the PEG of between 1 kDa and 3 kDa e.g. between 23 and 68, or about 45 for a 2 kDa PEGylation (e.g. see FIG. 16).
  • [0017]
    The PEG moiety can terminate with an —O-methyl group, and so a PEGylated lipid may comprise:
  • [0000]
  • [0018]
    Including attachment to a nitrogen in a lipid's head group, therefore, a PEGylated lipid useful with the invention may comprise:
  • [0000]
  • [0019]
    One suitable PEGylated lipid for use with the invention is PEG-DMG, as used in the examples. FIGS. 17A to 17E show further useful PEGylated lipids. PEGylated cholesterol can also be used. Other PEGylated lipids can be used e.g. lipids of Formula (X):
  • [0000]
  • [0000]
    wherein:
  • [0020]
    Z is a hydrophilic head group component selected from PEG and polymers based on poly(oxazoline), poly(ethylene oxide), poly(vinyl alcohol), poly(glycerol), poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone), poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide] and poly(amino acid)s, wherein the polymer may be linear or branched, and wherein the polymer may be optionally substituted;
  • [0021]
    Z is polymerized by n subunits;
  • [0022]
    n is a number-averaged degree of polymerization between 10 and 200 units of Z (and can be optimized for different Z groups);
  • [0023]
    L1 is an optionally substituted C1-10 alkylene or C1-10 heteroalkylene linker including zero, one or two of an ether (e.g., —C(O)O—), ester (e.g., —C(O)O—), succinate (e.g., —O(O)C—CH2—CH2—C(O)O—)), carbamate (e.g., —OC(O)—NR′—), carbonate (e.g., —OC(O)O—), urea (e.g., —NRC(O)NR′—), amine (e.g., —NR′—), amide (e.g., —C(O)NR′—), imine (e.g., —C(NR′)—), thioether (e.g., —S—), xanthate (e.g., —OC(S)S—), and phosphodiester (e.g., —OP(O)2O—), wherein R′ is independently selected from ‘3H, —NH—, —NH2, —O—, —S—, a phosphate or an optionally substituted C1-10 alkylene;
  • [0024]
    X1 and X2 are independently selected from a carbon or a heteroatom selected from —NH—, —O—, —S— or a phosphate;
  • [0025]
    A1 and A2 are either independently selected from a C6-30 alkyl, C6-30 alkenyl, and C6-30 alkynyl, wherein A1 and A2 may be the same or different, or A1 and A2 together with the carbon atom to which they are attached form an optionally substituted steroid.
  • [0026]
    A liposome of the invention will typically include a large number of PEG moieties, which may be the same or different. The average molecular mass of the PEG in a liposome of the invention is between 1 kDa and 3 kDa e.g. between 1.5-2.5 kDa, between 1.7-2.3 kDa, between 1.8-2.2 kDa, between 1.9-2.1 kDa, or 2 kDa. Thus the PEG can be a PEG which is commonly known as “PEG 2000” or “PEG 2 k”, although the shorter “PEG 1000” and longer “PEG 3000” can also be used.
  • [0027]
    The PEG will usually comprise linear polymer chains but, in some embodiments, the PEG may comprise branched polymer chains.
  • [0028]
    It is also possible for a single lipid molecule to include more than one PEG group e.g. attached to different carbon atoms in a lipid's head group (e.g. see FIG. 18). In these circumstances the reference to the molecular mass of PEG in a liposome is the molecular mass per lipid molecule rather than per PEG substituent. Thus, in a liposome in which the sole PEGylated lipid has the structure shown in FIG. 18, where the boxed molecular weight is 2 kDa and is made up of two chains of 1 kDa each, the average molecular mass of the PEG is 2 kDa not 1 kDa.
  • [0029]
    In some embodiments the PEG may be a substituted PEG e.g. in which one or more carbon atoms in the polymer is substituted by one or more alkyl, alkoxy, acyl or aryl groups.
  • [0030]
    In some embodiments the PEG may include copolymer groups e.g. one or more propylene monomers, to form a PEG polypropylene polymer.
  • [0031]
    As an alternative to PEGylation, a lipid may be modified by covalent attachment of a moiety different from PEG. For instance, in some embodiments a lipid may include a polyphosphazene. In some embodiments a lipid may include a poly(vinyl pyrrolidone). In some embodiments a lipid may include a poly(acryl amide); In some embodiments a lipid may include a poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline). In some embodiments a lipid may include a poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline). In some embodiments a lipid may include a phosphatidyl polyglycerol. In some embodiments a lipid may include a poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide]. In some embodiments a lipid may include a polyalkylene ether polymer, other than PEG.
  • [0032]
    Liposomes are usually divided into three groups: multilamellar vesicles (MLV); small unilamellar vesicles (SUV); and large unilamellar vesicles (LUV). MLVs have multiple bilayers in each vesicle, forming several separate aqueous compartments. SUVs and LUVs have a single bilayer encapsulating an aqueous core; SUVs typically have a diameter ≦50 nm, and LUVs have a diameter >50 nm. Liposomes of the invention are ideally LUVs with a diameter in the range of 60-180 nm, and preferably in the range of 80-160 nm.
  • [0033]
    A liposome of the invention can be part of a composition comprising a plurality of liposomes, and the liposomes within the plurality can have a range of diameters. For a composition comprising a population of liposomes with different diameters: (i) at least 80% by number of the liposomes should have diameters in the range of 60-180 nm, and preferably in the range of 80-160 nm, and/or (ii) the average diameter (by intensity e.g. Z-average) of the population is ideally in the range of 60-180 nm, and preferably in the range of 80-160 nm. The diameters within the plurality should ideally have a polydispersity index <0.2. The liposome/RNA complexes of reference 1 are expected to have a diameter in the range of 600-800 nm and to have a high polydispersity.
  • [0034]
    Techniques for preparing suitable liposomes are well known in the art e.g. see references 4 to 6. One useful method is described in reference 7 and involves mixing (i) an ethanolic solution of the lipids (ii) an aqueous solution of the nucleic acid and (iii) buffer, followed by mixing, equilibration, dilution and purification. Preferred liposomes of the invention are obtainable by this mixing process.
  • [0035]
    To obtain liposomes with the desired diameter(s), mixing can be performed using a process in which two feed streams of aqueous RNA solution are combined in a single mixing zone with one stream of an ethanolic lipid solution, all at the same flow rate e.g. in a microfluidic channel as described below.
  • [0036]
    The RNA
  • [0037]
    Liposomes of the invention include a RNA molecule which (unlike siRNA, as in reference 2) encodes an immunogen. After in vivo administration of the particles, RNA is released from the particles and is translated inside a cell to provide the immunogen in situ.
  • [0038]
    The RNA is +-stranded, and so it can be translated by cells without needing any intervening replication steps such as reverse transcription. It can also bind to TLR7 receptors expressed by immune cells, thereby initiating an adjuvant effect.
  • [0039]
    Preferred +-stranded RNAs are self-replicating. A self-replicating RNA molecule (replicon) can, when delivered to a vertebrate cell even without any proteins, lead to the production of multiple daughter RNAs by transcription from itself (via an antisense copy which it generates from itself). A self-replicating RNA molecule is thus typically a +-strand molecule which can be directly translated after delivery to a cell, and this translation provides a RNA-dependent RNA polymerase which then produces both antisense and sense transcripts from the delivered RNA. Thus the delivered RNA leads to the production of multiple daughter RNAs. These daughter RNAs, as well as collinear subgenomic transcripts, may be translated themselves to provide in situ expression of an encoded immunogen, or may be transcribed to provide further transcripts with the same sense as the delivered RNA which are translated to provide in situ expression of the immunogen. The overall result of this sequence of transcriptions is a huge amplification in the number of the introduced replicon RNAs and so the encoded immunogen becomes a major polypeptide product of the cells.
  • [0040]
    One suitable system for achieving self-replication is to use an alphavirus-based RNA replicon. These +-stranded replicons are translated after delivery to a cell to give of a replicase (or replicase-transcriptase). The replicase is translated as a polyprotein which auto-cleaves to provide a replication complex which creates genomic −strand copies of the +-strand delivered RNA. These −-strand transcripts can themselves be transcribed to give further copies of the +-stranded parent RNA and also to give a subgenomic transcript which encodes the immunogen. Translation of the subgenomic transcript thus leads to in situ expression of the immunogen by the infected cell. Suitable alphavirus replicons can use a replicase from a Sindbis virus, a Semliki forest virus, an eastern equine encephalitis virus, a Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, etc. Mutant or wild-type viruses sequences can be used e.g. the attenuated TC83 mutant of VEEV has been used in replicons [8].
  • [0041]
    A preferred self-replicating RNA molecule thus encodes (i) a RNA-dependent RNA polymerase which can transcribe RNA from the self-replicating RNA molecule and (ii) an immunogen. The polymerase can be an alphavirus replicase e.g. comprising one or more of alphavirus proteins nsP1, nsP2, nsP3 and nsP4.
  • [0042]
    Whereas natural alphavirus genomes encode structural virion proteins in addition to the non-structural replicase polyprotein, it is preferred that a self-replicating RNA molecule of the invention does not encode alphavirus structural proteins. Thus a preferred self-replicating RNA can lead to the production of genomic RNA copies of itself in a cell, but not to the production of RNA-containing virions. The inability to produce these virions means that, unlike a wild-type alphavirus, the self-replicating RNA molecule cannot perpetuate itself in infectious form. The alphavirus structural proteins which are necessary for perpetuation in wild-type viruses are absent from self-replicating RNAs of the invention and their place is taken by gene(s) encoding the immunogen of interest, such that the subgenomic transcript encodes the immunogen rather than the structural alphavirus virion proteins.
  • [0043]
    Thus a self-replicating RNA molecule useful with the invention may have two open reading frames. The first (5′) open reading frame encodes a replicase; the second (3′) open reading frame encodes an immunogen. In some embodiments the RNA may have additional (e.g. downstream) open reading frames e.g. to encode further immunogens (see below) or to encode accessory polypeptides.
  • [0044]
    A self-replicating RNA molecule can have a 5′ sequence which is compatible with the encoded replicase.
  • [0045]
    Self-replicating RNA molecules can have various lengths but they are typically 5000-25000 nucleotides long e.g. 8000-15000 nucleotides, or 9000-12000 nucleotides. Thus the RNA is longer than seen in siRNA delivery.
  • [0046]
    A RNA molecule useful with the invention may have a 5′ cap (e.g. a 7-methylguanosine). This cap can enhance in vivo translation of the RNA.
  • [0047]
    The 5′ nucleotide of a RNA molecule useful with the invention may have a 5′ triphosphate group. In a capped RNA this may be linked to a 7-methylguanosine via a 5′-to-5′ bridge. A 5′ triphosphate can enhance RIG-I binding and thus promote adjuvant effects.
  • [0048]
    A RNA molecule may have a 3′ poly-A tail. It may also include a poly-A polymerase recognition sequence (e.g. AAUAAA) near its 3′ end.
  • [0049]
    A RNA molecule useful with the invention will typically be single-stranded. Single-stranded RNAs can generally initiate an adjuvant effect by binding to TLR7, TLR8, RNA helicases and/or PKR. RNA delivered in double-stranded form (dsRNA) can bind to TLR3, and this receptor can also be triggered by dsRNA which is formed either during replication of a single-stranded RNA or within the secondary structure of a single-stranded RNA.
  • [0050]
    A RNA molecule useful with the invention can conveniently be prepared by in vitro transcription (IVT). NT can use a (cDNA) template created and propagated in plasmid form in bacteria, or created synthetically (for example by gene synthesis and/or polymerase chain-reaction (PCR) engineering methods). For instance, a DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (such as the bacteriophage T7, T3 or SP6 RNA polymerases) can be used to transcribe the RNA from a DNA template. Appropriate capping and poly-A addition reactions can be used as required (although the replicon's poly-A is usually encoded within the DNA template). These RNA polymerases can have stringent requirements for the transcribed 5′ nucleotide(s) and in some embodiments these requirements must be matched with the requirements of the encoded replicase, to ensure that the IVT-transcribed RNA can function efficiently as a substrate for its self-encoded replicase.
  • [0051]
    As discussed in reference 9, the self-replicating RNA can include (in addition to any 5′ cap structure) one or more nucleotides having a modified nucleobase. Thus the RNA can comprise m5C (5-methylcytidine), m5U (5-methyluridine), m6A (N6-methyladenosine), s2U (2-thiouridine), Um (2′-O-methyluridine), m1A (1-methyladenosine); m2A (2-methyladenosine); Am (2′-O-methyl adenosine); ms2m6A (2-methylthio-N6-methyladenosine); i6A (N6-isopentenyladenosine); ms2i6A (2-methylthio-N6isopentenyladenosine); io6A (N6-(cis-hydroxyisopentenyl)adenosine); ms2io6A (2-methylthio-N6-(cis-hydroxyisopentenyl) adenosine); g6A (N6-glycinylcarbamoyladenosine); t6A (N6-threonyl carbamoyladenosine); ms2t6A (2-methylthio-N6-threonyl carbamoyladenosine); m6t6A (N6-methyl-N6-threonylcarbamoyladenosine); hn6A(N6.-hydroxynorvalylcarbamoyl adenosine); ms2hn6A (2-methylthio-N6-hydroxynorvalyl carbamoyladenosine); Ar(p) (2′-O-ribosyl adenosine (phosphate)); I (inosine); mll (1-methylinosine); m′Im (1,2′-O-dimethylinosine); m3C (3-methylcytidine); Cm (2T-O-methylcytidine); s2C (2-thiocytidine); ac4C (N4-acetylcytidine); f5C (5-fonnylcytidine); m5Cm (5,2-O-dimethylcytidine); ac4Cm (N4acetyl2TOmethylcytidine); k2C (lysidine); m1G (1-methyl guanosine); m2G (N2-methylguanosine); m7G (7-methylguanosine); Gm (2′-O-methylguanosine); m22G (N2,N2-dimethylguanosine); m2Gm (N2,2′-O-dimethylguanosine); m22Gm (N2,N2,2′-O-trimethylguanosine); Gr(p) (2′-O-ribosylguanosine (phosphate)); yW (wybutosine); o2yW (peroxywybutosine); OHyW (hydroxywybutosine); OHyW* (undermodified hydroxywybutosine); imG (wyosine); mimG (methylguanosine); Q (queuosine); oQ (epoxyqueuosine); galQ (galtactosyl-queuosine); manQ (mannosyl-queuosine); preQo (7-cyano-7-deazaguanosine); preQi (7-aminomethyl-7-deazaguanosine); G* (archaeosine); D (dihydrouridine); m5Um (5,2′-O-dimethyluridine); s4U (4-thiouridine); m5s2U (5-methyl-2-thiouridine); s2Um (2-thio-2′-O-methyluridine); acp3U (3-(3-amino-3-carboxypropyl)uridine); ho5U (5-hydroxyuridine); mo5U (5-methoxyuridine); cmo5U (uridine 5-oxyacetic acid); mcmo5U (uridine 5-oxyacetic acid methyl ester); chm5U (5-(carboxyhydroxymethyl)uridine)); mchm5U (5-(carboxyhydroxymethyl)uridine methyl ester); mcm5U (5-methoxycarbonyl methyluridine); mcm5Um (S-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-O-methyluricjine); mcm5 s2U (5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine); nm5 s2U (5-aminomethyl-2-thiouridine); nmm5U (5-methylaminomethyluridine); mnm5s2U (5-methylaminomethyl-2-thiouridine); mnm5se2U (5-methylaminomethyl-2-selenouridine); ,ncm5U (5-carbamoylmethyl uridine); ncm5Um (5-carbamoylmethyl-2′-O-methyluridine); cmnm5U (5-carboxymethylaminomethyluridine); cnmm5Um (5-carboxymethyl aminomethyl-2-L-O-methyluridine); cmnm5s2U (5-carboxymethylaminomethyl-2-thiouridine); m62A (N6,N6-dimethyladenosine); Tm (2′-O-methylinosine); m4C (N4-methylcytidine); m4Cm (N4,2-O-dimethylcytidine); hm5C (5-hydroxymethylcytidine); m3U (3-methyluridine); cm5U (5-carboxymethyluridine); m6Am (N6,T-O-dimethyladenosine); rn62Am (N6,N6,O-2-trimethyladenosine); m2′7G (N2,7-dimethylguanosine); m2′2′7G (N2,N2,7-trimethylguanosine); m3Um (3,2T-O-dimethyluridine); m5D (5-methyldihydrouridine); f5Cm (5-formyl-2′-O-methylcytidine); 1Gm (1,2′-O-dimethylguanosine); m′Am (1,2-O-dimethyl adenosine)irinomethyluridine); tm5s2U (S-taurinomethyl-2-thiouridine)); imG-14 (4-demethyl guanosine); imG2 (isoguanosine); or ac6A (N6-acetyladenosine), hypoxanthine, inosine, 8-oxo-adenine, 7-substituted derivatives thereof, dihydrouracil, pseudouracil, 2-thiouracil, 4-thiouracil, 5-aminouracil, 5-(C1-C6)-alkyluracil, 5-methyluracil, 5-(C2-C6)-alkenyluracil, 5-(C2-C6)-alkynyluracil, 5-(hydroxymethyl)uracil, 5-chlorouracil, 5-fluorouracil, 5-bromouracil, 5-hydroxycytosine, 5-(C1-C6)-alkylcytosine, 5-methylcytosine, 5-(C2-C6)-alkenylcytosine, 5-(C2-C6)-alkynylcytosine, 5-chlorocytosine, 5-fluorocytosine, 5-bromocytosine, N2-dimethylguanine, 7-deazaguanine, 8-azaguanine, 7-deaza-7-substituted guanine, 7-deaza-7-(C2-C6)alkynylguanine, 7-deaza-8-substituted guanine, 8-hydroxyguanine, 6-thioguanine, 8-oxoguanine, 2-aminopurine, 2-amino-6-chloropurine, 2,4-diaminopurine, 2,6-diaminopurine, 8-azapurine, substituted 7-deazapurine, 7-deaza-7-substituted purine, 7-deaza-8-substituted purine, or an abasic nucleotide. For instance, a self-replicating RNA can include one or more modified pyrimidine nucleobases, such as pseudouridine and/or 5-methylcytosine residues. In some embodiments, however, the RNA includes no modified nucleobases, and may include no modified nucleotides i.e. all of the nucleotides in the RNA are standard A, C, G and U ribonucleotides (except for any 5′ cap structure, which may include a 7′-methylguanosine). In other embodiments, the RNA may include a 5′ cap comprising a 7′-methylguanosine, and the first 1, 2 or 3 5′ ribonucleotides may be methylated at the 2′ position of the ribose.
  • [0052]
    A RNA used with the invention ideally includes only phosphodiester linkages between nucleosides, but in some embodiments it can contain phosphoramidate, phosphorothioate, and/or methylphosphonate linkages.
  • [0053]
    Ideally, a liposome includes fewer than 10 different species of RNA e.g. 5, 4, 3, or 2 different species; most preferably, a liposome includes a single RNA species i.e. all RNA molecules in the liposome have the same sequence and same length.
  • [0054]
    The amount of RNA per liposome can vary. The number of individual self-replicating RNA molecules per liposome is typically ≦50 e.g. <20, <10, <5, or 1-4 per liposome.
  • [0055]
    The Immunogen
  • [0056]
    RNA molecules used with the invention encode a polypeptide immunogen. After administration of the liposomes the RNA is translated in vivo and the immunogen can elicit an immune response in the recipient. The immunogen may elicit an immune response against a bacterium, a virus, a fungus or a parasite (or, in some embodiments, against an allergen; and in other embodiments, against a tumor antigen). The immune response may comprise an antibody response (usually including IgG) and/or a cell-mediated immune response. The polypeptide immunogen will typically elicit an immune response which recognises the corresponding bacterial, viral, fungal or parasite (or allergen or tumour) polypeptide, but in some embodiments the polypeptide may act as a mimotope to elicit an immune response which recognises a bacterial, viral, fungal or parasite saccharide. The immunogen will typically be a surface polypeptide e.g. an adhesin, a hemagglutinin, an envelope glycoprotein, a spike glycoprotein, etc.
  • [0057]
    The RNA molecule can encode a single polypeptide immunogen or multiple polypeptides. Multiple immunogens can be presented as a single polypeptide immunogen (fusion polypeptide) or as separate polypeptides. If immunogens are expressed as separate polypeptides from a replicon then one or more of these may be provided with an upstream IRES or an additional viral promoter element. Alternatively, multiple immunogens may be expressed from a polyprotein that encodes individual immunogens fused to a short autocatalytic protease (e.g. foot-and-mouth disease virus 2A protein), or as inteins.
  • [0058]
    Unlike references 1 and 10, the RNA encodes an immunogen. For the avoidance of doubt, the invention does not encompass RNA which encodes a firefly luciferase or which encodes a fusion protein of E. coli β-galactosidase or which encodes a green fluorescent protein (GFP). Such polypeptides may be useful as markers, or even in a gene therapy context, but the invention concerns delivery of RNA for eliciting an immunological response system. Thus the immunogen also is not a self protein which is delivered to supplement or substitute for a defective host protein (as in gene therapy). Also, the RNA is not total mouse thymus RNA.
  • [0059]
    In some embodiments the immunogen elicits an immune response against one of these bacteria:
      • Neisseria meningitidis: useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, membrane proteins such as adhesins, autotransporters, toxins, iron acquisition proteins, and factor H binding protein. A combination of three useful polypeptides is disclosed in reference 11.
      • Streptococcus pneumoniae: useful polypeptide immunogens are disclosed in reference 12. These include, but are not limited to, the RrgB pilus subunit, the beta-N-acetyl-hexosaminidase precursor (spr0057), spr0096, General stress protein GSP-781 (spr2021, SP2216), serine/threonine kinase StkP (SP1732), and pneumococcal surface adhesin PsaA.
      • Streptococcus pyogenes: useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, the polypeptides disclosed in references 13 and 14.
      • Moraxella catarrhalis.
      • Bordetella pertussis: Useful pertussis immunogens include, but are not limited to, pertussis toxin or toxoid (PT), filamentous haemagglutinin (FHA), pertactin, and agglutinogens 2 and 3.
      • Staphylococcus aureus: Useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, the polypeptides disclosed in reference 15, such as a hemolysin, esxA, esxB, ferrichrome-binding protein (sta006) and/or the sta011 lipoprotein.
      • Clostridium tetani: the typical immunogen is tetanus toxoid.
      • Cornynebacterium diphtheriae: the typical immunogen is diphtheria toxoid.
      • Haemophilus influenzae: Useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, the polypeptides disclosed in references 16 and 17.
      • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
      • Streptococcus agalactiae: useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, the polypeptides disclosed in reference 13.
      • Chlamydia trachomatis: Useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, PepA, LcrE, ArtJ, DnaK, CT398, OmpH-like, L7/L12, OmcA, AtoS, CT547, Eno, HtrA and MurG (e.g. as disclosed in reference 18. LcrE [19] and HtrA [20] are two preferred immunogens.
      • Chlamydia pneumoniae: Useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, the polypeptides disclosed in reference 21.
      • Helicobacter pylori: Useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, CagA, VacA, NAP, and/or urease [22].
      • Escherichia coli: Useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, immunogens derived from enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAggEC), diffusely adhering E. coli (DAEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) and/or enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). ExPEC strains include uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) and meningitis/sepsis-associated E. coli (MNEC). Useful UPEC polypeptide immunogens are disclosed in references 23 and 24. Useful MNEC immunogens are disclosed in reference 25. A useful immunogen for several E. coli types is AcfD [26].
      • Bacillus anthracis
      • Yersinia pestis: Useful immunogens include, but are not limited to, those disclosed in references 27 and 28.
      • Staphylococcus epidermis
      • Clostridium perfringens or Clostridium botulinums
      • Legionella pneumophila
      • Coxiella burnetii
      • Brucella, such as B. abortus, B. canis, B. melitensis, B.neotomae, B.ovis, B. suis, B.pinnipediae.
      • Francisella, such as F.novicida, F.philomiragia, F. tularensis.
      • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
      • Treponema pallidum
      • Haemophilus ducreyi
      • Enterococcus faecalis or Enterococcus faecium
      • Staphylococcus saprophyticus
      • Yersinia enterocolitica
      • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
      • Rickettsia
      • Listeria monocytogenes
      • Vibrio cholerae
      • Salmonella typhi
      • Borrelia burgdorferi
      • Porphyromonas gingivalis
      • Klebsiella
  • [0097]
    In some embodiments the immunogen elicits an immune response against one of these viruses:
      • Orthomyxovirus: Useful immunogens can be from an influenza A, B or C virus, such as the hemagglutinin, neuraminidase or matrix M2 proteins. Where the immunogen is an influenza A virus hemagglutinin it may be from any subtype e.g. H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6, H7, H8, H9, H10, H11, H12, H13, H14, H15 or H16.
      • Paramyxoviridae viruses: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from Pneumoviruses (e.g. respiratory syncytial virus, RSV), Rubulaviruses (e.g. mumps virus), Paramyxoviruses (e.g. parainfluenza virus), Metapneumoviruses and Morbilliviruses (e.g. measles virus).
      • Poxviridae: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from Orthopoxvirus such as Variola vera, including but not limited to, Variola major and Variola minor.
      • Picornavirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from Picornaviruses, such as Enteroviruses, Rhinoviruses, Heparnavirus, Cardioviruses and Aphthoviruses. In one embodiment, the enterovirus is a poliovirus e.g. a type 1, type 2 and/or type 3 poliovirus. In another embodiment, the enterovirus is an EV71 enterovirus. In another embodiment, the enterovirus is a coxsackie A or B virus.
      • Bunyavirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from an Orthobunyavirus, such as California encephalitis virus, a Phlebovirus, such as Rift Valley Fever virus, or a Nairovirus, such as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus.
      • Heparnavirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a
      • Heparnavirus, such as hepatitis A virus (HAV).
      • Filovirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a filovirus, such as an Ebola virus (including a Zaire, Ivory Coast, Reston or Sudan ebolavirus) or a Marburg virus.
      • Togavirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a Togavirus, such as a Rubivirus, an Alphavirus, or an Arterivirus. This includes rubella virus.
      • Flavivirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a Flavivirus, such as Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus, Dengue (types 1, 2, 3 or 4) virus, Yellow Fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, Kyasanur Forest Virus, West Nile encephalitis virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, Russian spring-summer encephalitis virus, Powassan encephalitis virus.
      • Pestivirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a Pestivirus, such as Bovine viral diarrhea (BVDV), Classical swine fever (CSFV) or Border disease (BDV).
      • Hepadnavirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a Hepadnavirus, such as Hepatitis B virus. A composition can include hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg).
      • Other hepatitis viruses: A composition can include an immunogen from a hepatitis C virus, delta hepatitis virus, hepatitis E virus, or hepatitis G virus.
      • Rhabdovirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a Rhabdovirus, such as a Lyssavirus (e.g. a Rabies virus) and Vesiculovirus (VSV).
      • Caliciviridae: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from Calciviridae, such as Norwalk virus (Norovirus), and Norwalk-like Viruses, such as Hawaii Virus and Snow Mountain Virus.
      • Coronavirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a SARS coronavirus, avian infectious bronchitis (IBV), Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), and Porcine transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV). The coronavirus immunogen may be a spike polypeptide.
      • Retrovirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from an Oncovirus, a Lentivirus (e.g. HIV-1 or HIV-2) or a Spumavirus.
      • Reovirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from an Orthoreovirus, a Rotavirus, an Orbivirus, or a Coltivirus.
      • Parvovirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from Parvovirus B 19.
      • Herpesvirus: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from a human herpesvirus, such as, by way of example only, Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV) (e.g. HSV types 1 and 2), Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV6), Human Herpesvirus 7 (HHV7), and Human Herpesvirus 8 (HHV8).
      • Papovaviruses: Viral immunogens include, but are not limited to, those derived from Papillomaviruses and Polyomaviruses. The (human) papillomavirus may be of serotype 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 41, 42, 47, 51, 57, 58, 63 or 65 e.g. from one or more of serotypes 6, 11, 16 and/or 18.
      • Adenovirus: Viral immunogens include those derived from adenovirus serotype 36 (Ad-36).
  • [0120]
    In some embodiments, the immunogen elicits an immune response against a virus which infects fish, such as: infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV), salmon pancreatic disease virus (SPDV), infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV), channel catfish virus (CCV), fish lymphocystis disease virus (FLDV), infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), koi herpesvirus, salmon picorna-like virus (also known as picorna-like virus of atlantic salmon), landlocked salmon virus (LSV), atlantic salmon rotavirus (ASR), trout strawberry disease virus (TSD), coho salmon tumor virus (CSTV), or viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV).
  • [0121]
    Fungal immunogens may be derived from Dermatophytres, including: Epidermophyton floccusum, Microsporum audouini, Microsporum canis, Microsporum distortum, Microsporum equinum, Microsporum gypsum, Microsporum nanum, Trichophyton concentricum, Trichophyton equinum, Trichophyton gallinae, Trichophyton gypseum, Trichophyton megnini, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Trichophyton quinckeanum, Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton schoenleini, Trichophyton tonsurans, Trichophyton verrucosum, T. verrucosum var. album, var. discoides, var. ochraceum, Trichophyton violaceum, and/or Trichophyton faviforme; or from Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus nidulans, Aspergillus terreus, Aspergillus sydowi, Aspergillus flavatus, Aspergillus glaucus, Blastoschizomyces capitatus, Candida albicans, Candida enolase, Candida tropicalis, Candida glabrata, Candida krusei, Candida parapsilosis, Candida stellatoidea, Candida kusei, Candida parakwsei, Candida lusitaniae, Candida pseudotropicalis, Candida guilliermondi, Cladosporium carrionii, Coccidioides immitis, Blastomyces dermatidis, Cryptococcus neoformans, Geotrichum clavatum, Histoplasma capsulatum, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Microsporidia, Encephalitozoon spp., Septata intestinalis and Enterocytozoon bieneusi; the less common are Brachiola spp, Microsporidium spp., Nosema spp., Pleistophora spp., Trachipleistophora spp., Vittaforma spp Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, Pneumocystis carinii, Pythiumn insidiosum, Pityrosporum ovale, Sacharomyces cerevisae, Saccharomyces boulardii, Saccharomyces pombe, Scedosporium apiosperum, Sporothrix schenckii, Trichosporon beigelii, Toxoplasma gondii, Penicillium marneffei, Malassezia spp., Fonsecaea spp., Wangiella spp., Sporothrix spp., Basidiobolus spp., Conidiobolus spp., Rhizopus spp, Mucor spp, Absidia spp, Mortierella spp, Cunninghamella spp, Saksenaea spp., Alternaria spp, Curvularia spp, Helminthosporium spp, Fusarium spp, Aspergillus spp, Penicillium spp, Monolinia spp, Rhizoctonia spp, Paecilomyces spp, Pithomyces spp, and Cladosporium spp.
  • [0122]
    In some embodiments the immunogen elicits an immune response against a parasite from the Plasmodium genus, such as P.falciparum, P.vivax, P.malariae or P.ovale. Thus the invention may be used for immunising against malaria. In some embodiments the immunogen elicits an immune response against a parasite from the Caligidae family, particularly those from the Lepeophtheirus and Caligus genera e.g. sea lice such as Lepeophtheirus salmonis or Caligus rogercresseyi.
  • [0123]
    In some embodiments the immunogen elicits an immune response against: pollen allergens (tree-, herb, weed-, and grass pollen allergens); insect or arachnid allergens (inhalant, saliva and venom allergens, e.g. mite allergens, cockroach and midges allergens, hymenopthera venom allergens); animal hair and dandruff allergens (from e.g. dog, cat, horse, rat, mouse, etc.); and food allergens (e.g. a gliadin). Important pollen allergens from trees, grasses and herbs are such originating from the taxonomic orders of Fagales, Oleales, Pinales and platanaceae including, but not limited to, birch (Betula), alder (Alnus), hazel (Corylus), hornbeam (Carpinus) and olive (Olea), cedar (Cryptomeria and Juniperus), plane tree (Platanus), the order of Poales including grasses of the genera Lolium, Phleum, Poa, Cynodon, Dactylis, Holcus, Phalaris, Secale, and Sorghum, the orders of Asterales and Urticales including herbs of the genera Ambrosia, Artemisia, and Parietaria. Other important inhalation allergens are those from house dust mites of the genus Dermatophagoides and Euroglyphus, storage mite e.g. Lepidoglyphys, Glycyphagus and Tyrophagus, those from cockroaches, midges and fleas e.g. Blatella, Periplaneta, Chironomus and Ctenocepphalides, and those from mammals such as cat, dog and horse, venom allergens including such originating from stinging or biting insects such as those from the taxonomic order of Hymenoptera inclikling bees (Apidae), wasps (Vespidea), and ants (Formicoidae).
  • [0124]
    In some embodiments the immunogen is a tumor antigen selected from: (a) cancer-testis antigens such as NY-ESO-1, SSX2, SCP1 as well as RAGE, BAGE, GAGE and MAGE family polypeptides, for example, GAGE-1, GAGE-2, MAGE-1, MAGE-2, MAGE-3, MAGE-4, MAGE-5, MAGE-6, and MAGE-12 (which can be used, for example, to address melanoma, lung, head and neck, NSCLC, breast, gastrointestinal, and bladder tumors; (b) mutated antigens, for example, p53 (associated with various solid tumors, e.g., colorectal, lung, head and neck cancer), p21/Ras (associated with, e.g., melanoma, pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer), CDK4 (associated with, e.g., melanoma), MUM1 (associated with, e.g., melanoma), caspase-8 (associated with, e.g., head and neck cancer), CIA 0205 (associated with, e.g., bladder cancer), HLA-A2-R1701, beta catenin (associated with, e.g., melanoma), TCR (associated with, e.g., T-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma), BCR-abl (associated with, e.g., chronic myelogenous leukemia), triosephosphate isomerase, KIA 0205, CDC-27, and LDLR-FUT; (c) over-expressed antigens, for example, Galectin 4 (associated with, e.g., colorectal cancer), Galectin 9 (associated with, e.g., Hodgkin's disease), proteinase 3 (associated with, e.g., chronic myelogenous leukemia), WT 1 (associated with, e.g., various leukemias), carbonic anhydrase (associated with, e.g., renal cancer), aldolase A (associated with, e.g., lung cancer), PRAME (associated with, e.g., melanoma), HER-2/neu (associated with, e.g., breast, colon, lung and ovarian cancer), mammaglobin, alpha-fetoprotein (associated with, e.g., hepatoma), KSA (associated with, e.g., colorectal cancer), gastrin (associated with, e.g., pancreatic and gastric cancer), telomerase catalytic protein, MUC-1 (associated with, e.g., breast and ovarian cancer), G-250 (associated with, e.g., renal cell carcinoma), p53 (associated with, e.g., breast, colon cancer), and carcinoembryonic antigen (associated with, e.g., breast cancer, lung cancer, and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract such as colorectal cancer); (d) shared antigens, for example, melanoma-melanocyte differentiation antigens such as MART-1/Melan A, gp100, MC1R, melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor, tyrosinase, tyrosinase related protein-1/TRP1 and tyrosinase related protein-2/TRP2 (associated with, e.g., melanoma); (e) prostate associated antigens such as PAP, PSA, PSMA, PSH-P1, PSM-P1, PSM-P2, associated with e.g., prostate cancer; (f) immunoglobulin idiotypes (associated with myeloma and B cell lymphomas, for example). In certain embodiments, tumor immunogens include, but are not limited to, p15, Hom/Mel-40, H-Ras, E2A-PRL, H4-RET, IGH-IGK, MYL-RAR, Epstein Barr virus antigens, EBNA, human papillomavirus (HPV) antigens, including E6 and E7, hepatitis B and C virus antigens, human T-cell lymphotropic virus antigens, TSP-180, p185erbB2, p180erbB-3, c-met, mn-23H1, TAG-72-4, CA 19-9, CA 72-4, CAM 17.1, NuMa, K-ras, p16, TAGE, PSCA, CT7, 43-9F, 5T4, 791 Tgp72, beta-HCG, BCA225, BTAA, CA 125, CA 15-3 (CA 27.29\BCAA), CA 195, CA 242, CA-50, CAM43, CD68\KP1, CO-029, FGF-5, Ga733 (EpCAM), HTgp-175, M344, MA-50, MG7-Ag, MOV18, NB/70K, NY-CO-1, RCAS1, SDCCAG16, TA-90 (Mac-2 binding protein/cyclophilin C-associated protein), TAAL6, TAG72, TLP, TPS, and the like.
  • [0125]
    Pharmaceutical Compositions
  • [0126]
    Liposomes of the invention are useful as components in pharmaceutical compositions for immunising subjects against various diseases. These compositions will typically include a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier in addition to the liposomes. A thorough discussion of pharmaceutically acceptable carriers is available in reference 29.
  • [0127]
    A pharmaceutical composition of the invention may include one or more small molecule immunopotentiators. For example, the composition may include a TLR2 agonist (e.g. Pam3CSK4), a TLR4 agonist (e.g. an aminoalkyl glucosaminide phosphate, such as E6020), a TLR7 agonist (e.g. imiquimod), a TLR8 agonist (e.g. resiquimod) and/or a TLR9 agonist (e.g. IC31). Any such agonist ideally has a molecular weight of <2000 Da. In some embodiments such agonist(s) are also encapsulated with the RNA inside liposomes, but in other embodiments they are unencapsulated.
  • [0128]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention may include the liposomes in plain water (e.g. w.f.i.) or in a buffer e.g. a phosphate buffer, a Tris buffer, a borate buffer, a succinate buffer, a histidine buffer, or a citrate buffer. Buffer salts will typically be included in the 5-20 mM range.
  • [0129]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention may have a pH between 5.0 and 9.5 e.g. between 6.0 and 8.0.
  • [0130]
    Compositions of the invention may include, sodium salts (e.g. sodium chloride) to give tonicity. A concentration of 10±2 mg/ml NaCl is typical e.g. about 9 mg/ml.
  • [0131]
    Compositions of the invention may include metal ion chelators. These can prolong RNA stability by removing ions which can accelerate phosphodiester hydrolysis. Thus a composition may include one or more of EDTA, EGTA, BAPTA, pentetic acid, etc. Such chelators are typically present at between 10-500 mM e.g. 0.1 mM. A citrate salt, such as sodium citrate, can also act as a chelator, while advantageously also providing buffering activity.
  • [0132]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention may have an osmolality of between 200 mOsm/kg and 400 mOsm/kg, e.g. between 240-360 mOsm/kg, or between 290-310 mOsm/kg.
  • [0133]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention may include one or more preservatives, such as thiomersal or 2-phenoxyethanol. Mercury-free compositions are preferred, and preservative-free vaccines can be prepared.
  • [0134]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are preferably sterile.
  • [0135]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are preferably non-pyrogenic e.g. containing <1 EU (endotoxin unit, a standard measure) per dose, and preferably <0.1 EU per dose.
  • [0136]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are preferably gluten free.
  • [0137]
    Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention may be prepared in unit dose form. In some embodiments a unit dose may have a volume of between 0.1-1.0 ml e.g. about 0.5 ml. The compositions may be prepared as injectables, either as solutions or suspensions. The composition may be prepared for pulmonary administration e.g. by an inhaler, using a fine spray. The composition may be prepared for nasal, aural or ocular administration e.g. as spray or drops. Injectables for intramuscular administration are typical.
  • [0138]
    Compositions comprise an immunologically effective amount of liposomes, as well as any other components, as needed. By ‘immunologically effective amount’, it is meant that the administration of that amount to an individual, either in a single dose or as part of a series, is effective for treatment or prevention. This amount varies depending upon the health and physical condition of the individual to be treated, age, the taxonomic group of individual to be treated (e.g. non-human primate, primate, etc.), the capacity of the individual's immune system to synthesise antibodies, the degree of protection desired, the formulation of the vaccine, the treating doctor's assessment of the medical situation, and other relevant factors. It is expected that the amount will fall in a relatively broad range that can be determined through routine trials. The liposome and RNA content of compositions of the invention will generally be expressed in terms of the amount of RNA per dose. A preferred dose has ≦100 μg RNA (e.g. from 10-100 μg, such as about 10 μg, 25 μg, 50 μg, 75 μg or 100 μg), but expression can be seen at much lower levels e.g. ≦1 μg/dose, ≦100 ng/dose, ≦10 ng/dose, ≦1 ng/dose, etc
  • [0139]
    The invention also provides a delivery device (e.g. syringe, nebuliser, sprayer, inhaler, dermal patch, etc.) containing a pharmaceutical composition of the invention. This device can be used to administer the composition to a vertebrate subject.
  • [0140]
    Liposomes of the invention do not contain ribosomes.
  • [0141]
    Methods of treatment and medical uses
  • [0142]
    In contrast to the particles disclosed in reference 10, liposomes and pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are for in vivo use for eliciting an immune response against an immunogen of interest.
  • [0143]
    The invention provides a method for raising an immune response in a vertebrate comprising the step of administering an effective amount of a liposome or pharmaceutical composition of the invention. The immune response is preferably protective and preferably involves antibodies and/or cell-mediated immunity. The method may raise a booster response.
  • [0144]
    The invention also provides a liposome or pharmaceutical composition of the invention for use in a method for raising an immune response in a vertebrate.
  • [0145]
    The invention also provides the use of a liposome of the invention in the manufacture of a medicament for raising an immune response in a vertebrate.
  • [0146]
    By raising an immune response in the vertebrate by these uses and methods, the vertebrate can be protected against various diseases and/or infections e.g. against bacterial and/or viral diseases as discussed above. The liposomes and compositions are immunogenic, and are more preferably vaccine compositions. Vaccines according to the invention may either be prophylactic (i.e. to prevent infection) or therapeutic (i.e. to treat infection), but will typically be prophylactic.
  • [0147]
    The vertebrate is preferably a mammal, such as a human or a large veterinary mammal (e.g. horses, cattle, deer, goats, pigs). Where the vaccine is for prophylactic use, the human is preferably a child (e.g. a toddler or infant) or a teenager; where the vaccine is for therapeutic use, the human is preferably a teenager or an adult. A vaccine intended for children may also be administered to adults e.g. to assess safety, dosage, immunogenicity, etc.
  • [0148]
    Vaccines prepared according to the invention may be used to treat both children and adults. Thus a human patient may be less than 1 year old, less than 5 years old, 1-5 years old, 5-15 years old, 15-55 years old, or at least 55 years old. Preferred patients for receiving the vaccines are the elderly (e.g. ≧50 years old, ≧60 years old, and preferably ≧65 years), the young (e.g. ≦5 years old), hospitalised patients, healthcare workers, armed service and military personnel, pregnant women, the chronically ill, or immunodeficient patients. The vaccines are not suitable solely for these groups, however, and may be used more generally in a population.
  • [0149]
    Compositions of the invention will generally be administered directly to a patient. Direct delivery may be accomplished by parenteral injection (e.g. subcutaneously, intraperitoneally, intravenously, intramuscularly, intradermally, or to the interstitial space of a tissue; unlike reference 1, intraglossal injection is not typically used with the present invention). Alternative delivery routes include rectal, oral (e.g. tablet, spray), buccal, sublingual, vaginal, topical, transdermal or transcutaneous, intranasal, ocular, aural, pulmonary or other mucosal administration. Intradermal and intramuscular administration are two preferred routes. Injection may be via a needle (e.g. a hypodermic needle), but needle-free injection may alternatively be used. A typical intramuscular dose is 0.5 ml.
  • [0150]
    The invention may be used to elicit systemic and/or mucosal immunity, preferably to elicit an enhanced systemic and/or mucosal immunity.
  • [0151]
    Dosage can be by a single dose schedule or a multiple dose schedule. Multiple doses may be used in a primary immunisation schedule and/or in a booster immunisation schedule. In a multiple dose schedule the various doses may be given by the same or different routes e.g. a parenteral prime and mucosal boost, a mucosal prime and parenteral boost, etc. Multiple doses will typically be administered at least 1 week apart (e.g. about 2 weeks, about 3 weeks, about 4 weeks, about 6 weeks, about 8 weeks, about 10 weeks, about 12 weeks, about 16 weeks, etc.). In one embodiment, multiple doses may be administered approximately 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks after birth, e.g. at an age of 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks, as often used in the World Health Organisation's Expanded Program on Immunisation (“EPI”). In an alternative embodiment, two primary doses are administered about two months apart, e.g. about 7, 8 or 9 weeks apart, followed by one or more booster doses about 6 months to 1 year after the second primary dose, e.g. about 6, 8, 10 or 12 months after the second primary dose. In a further embodiment, three primary doses are administered about two months apart, e.g. about 7, 8 or 9 weeks apart, followed by one or more booster doses about 6 months to 1 year after the third primary dose, e.g. about 6, 8, 10, or 12 months after the third primary dose.
  • [0152]
    Formula (X)
  • [0153]
    Compounds of formula (X) contains a hydrophilic polymer head group linked to a lipid moiety. They can be described as “stealth lipids” and they have formula:
  • [0000]
  • [0000]
    wherein:
  • [0154]
    Z is a hydrophilic head group component selected from PEG and polymers based on poly(oxazoline), poly(ethylene oxide), poly(vinyl alcohol), poly(glycerol), poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone), poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide] and poly(amino acids, wherein the polymer may be linear or branched, and wherein the polymer may be optionally substituted;
  • [0155]
    wherein Z is polymerized by n subunits;
  • [0156]
    n is a number-averaged degree of polymerization between 10 and 200 units of Z, wherein n is optimized for different polymer types;
  • [0157]
    L1 is an optionally substituted C1-10 alkylene or C1-10heteroalkylene linker including zero, one or two of an ether (e.g., —O—), ester (e.g., —C(O)O—), succinate (e.g., —O(O)C—CH2—CH2—C(O)O—)), carbamate (e.g., —OC(O)—NR′—), carbonate (e.g., —OC(O)O—), urea (e.g., —NRC(O)NR′—), amine (e.g., —NR′—), amide (e.g., —C(O)NR′—), imine (e.g., —C(NR′)—), thioether (e.g., —S—), xanthate (e.g., —OC(S)S—), and phosphodiester (e.g., —OP(O)2O—),
  • [0158]
    wherein R′ is independently selected from —H, —NH—, —NH2, —O—; —S—, a phosphate or an optionally substituted C1-10 alkylene;
  • [0159]
    X1 and X2 are independently selected from a carbon or a heteroatom selected from —NH—, —O—, —S— or a phosphate;
  • [0160]
    A1 and A2 are independently selected from a C6-30 alkyl, C6-30 alkenyl, and C6-30 alkynyl, wherein A1 and A2 may be the same or different, or A1 and A2 together with the carbon atom to which they are attached form an optionally substituted steroid.
  • [0161]
    In one embodiment, the compound of formula (X) has formula (X)
  • [0000]
    wherein
  • [0000]
  • [0162]
    PEG is a poly(ethylene glycol) subunit, wherein the PEG may be linear or branched;
  • [0163]
    n is a number-averaged degree of polymerization between 10 and 200 units of PEG, preferably around 45 units;
  • [0164]
    L1 is an optionally substituted C1-10 heteroalkylene linker containing one or two of an ether, ester, succinate, carbamate, carbonate, urea, amine, amide, imine, thioether, xanthate, and phosphodiester;
  • [0165]
    X1 and X2 are oxygen;
  • [0166]
    A1 and A2 are independently selected from a C6-30 alkyl, C6-30 alkenyl, and C6-30 alkynyl, wherein A1 and A2 may be the same or different, or wherein A1 and A2 together with the carbon atom to which they are attached form an optionally substituted steroid.
  • [0167]
    The lipids of formulae (X) and (X′), when formulated with cationic lipids to form liposomes, can increase the length of time for which a liposome can exist in vivo (e.g. in the blood). They can shield the surface of a liposome surface and thereby reduce opsonisation by blood proteins and uptake by macrophages. Further details are in references 30 and 31. In one embodiment, the lipid comprises a group selected from PEG (sometimes referred to as poly(ethylene oxide)) and polymers based on poly(oxazoline), poly(vinyl alcohol), poly(glycerol), poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone), poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide] and poly(amino acid)s.
  • [0168]
    Suitable PEGylated lipids for use with the invention include polyethyleneglycol-diacylglycerol or polyethyleneglycol-diacylglycamide (PEG-DAG) conjugates including those comprising a dialkylglycerol or dialkylglycamide group having alkyl chain length independently comprising from about C4 to about C40 saturated or unsaturated carbon atoms. The dialkylglycerol or dialkylglycamide group can further comprise one or more substituted alkyl groups. The PEGyltaed lipid can be selected from PEG-dilaurylglycerol, PEG-dimyristylglycerol (catalog #GM-020 from NOF), PEG-dipalmitoylglycerol, PEG-disterylglycerol, PEG-dilaurylglycamide, PEG-dimyristylglycamide, PEG-dipalmitoyl-glycamide, and PEG-disterylglycamide, PEG-cholesterol (1-[8′-(Cholest-5-en-3 [beta]-oxy)carboxamido-3′,6′-dioxaoctanyl]carbamoyl-[omega]-methyl-poly(ethylene glycol), PEG-DMB (3,4-Ditetradecoxylbenzyl-[omega]-methyl-poly(ethylene glycol)ether), 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-[methoxy(polyethylene glycol)-2000] (catalog #880150P from Avanti Polar Lipids). Other useful PEGylated lipids are S001, S002, S003, S004, S005, S006, S007, S008, S009, S010, S011, and CS-020SA (NOF); S010 and S011 are disclosed in ref. 32 under the labels IVa and IVc, respectively. In ref. 32, a different synthesis from that reported herein is used to prepare IVa and IVc.
  • [0169]
    Chemical terms and Definitions
  • [0170]
    Halo
  • [0171]
    The term “halogen” (or “halo”) includes fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine.
  • [0172]
    Alkyl, alkylene, alkenvl, alkvnvl, cycloalkyl etc.
  • [0173]
    The terms “alkyl”, “alkylene”, “alkenyl” and “alkynyl” are used herein to refer to both straight and branched chain acyclic forms. Cyclic analogues thereof are referred to as cycloalkyl, etc.
  • [0174]
    The term “alkyl” includes monovalent, straight or branched, saturated, acyclic hydrocarbyl groups. In one embodiment alkyl is C1-10alkyl, in another embodiment C1-6alkyl, in another embodiment C1-4alkyl, such as methyl, ethyl, n-propyl, i-propyl or t-butyl groups.
  • [0175]
    The term “cycloalkyl” includes monovalent, saturated, cyclic hydrocarbyl groups. In one embodiment cycloalkyl is C3-10cycloalkyl, in another embodiment C3-6cycloalkyl such as cyclopentyl and cyclohexyl.
  • [0176]
    The term “alkoxy” means alkyl-O—.
  • [0177]
    The term “alkenyl” includes monovalent, straight or branched, unsaturated, acyclic hydrocarbyl groups having at least one carbon-carbon double bond and, in one embodiment, no carbon-carbon triple bonds. In one embodiment alkenyl is C2-10alkenyl, in another embodiment C2-6alkenyl, in another embodiment C2-4alkenyl.
  • [0178]
    The term “cycloalkenyl” includes monovalent, partially unsaturated, cyclic hydrocarbyl groups having at least one carbon-carbon double bond and, in one embodiment, no carbon-carbon triple bonds. In one embodiment cycloalkenyl is C3-10cycloalkenyl, in another embodiment C5-10cycloalkenyl, e.g. cyclohexenyl or benzocyclohexyl.
  • [0179]
    The term “alkynyl” includes monovalent, straight or branched, unsaturated, acyclic hydrocarbyl groups having at least one carbon-carbon triple bond and, in one embodiment, no carbon-carbon double bonds. In one embodiment, alkynyl is C2-10alkynyl, in another embodiment C2-6alkynyl, in another embodiment C2-4alkynyl.
  • [0180]
    The term “cycloalkynyl” includes monovalent, partially unsaturated, cyclic hydrocarbyl groups having at least one carbon-carbon triple bond and, in one embodiment, no carbon-carbon double bonds. In one embodiment cycloalkynyl is C3-10cycloalkenyl, in another embodiment C5-10cycloalkynyl
  • [0181]
    The term “alkylene” includes divalent, straight or branched, saturated, acyclic hydrocarbyl groups. In one embodiment alkylene is C1-10alkylene, in another embodiment C1-6alkylene, in another embodiment C1-4alkylene, such as methylene, ethylene, n-propylene, i-propylene or t-butylene groups.
  • [0182]
    The term “alkenylene” includes divalent, straight or branched, unsaturated, acyclic hydrocarbyl groups having at least one carbon-carbon double bond and, in one embodiment, no carbon-carbon triple bonds. In one embodiment alkenylene is C2-10alkenylene, in another embodiment C2-6alkenylene, in another embodiment C2-4alkenylene.
  • [0183]
    The term “alkynylene” includes divalent, straight or branched, unsaturated, acyclic hydrocarbyl groups having at least one carbon-carbon triple bond and, in one embodiment, no carbon-carbon double bonds. In one embodiment alkynylene is C2-10alkynylene, in another embodiment C2-6alkynylene, in another embodiment C2-4alkynylene.
  • [0184]
    Heteroalkvl etc.
  • [0185]
    The term “heteroalkyl” includes alkyl groups in which up to six carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to five carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to four carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to three carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q, N, P(O)s or Si (and preferably O, S(O)q or N), provided at least one of the alkyl carbon atoms remains. The heteroalkyl group may be C-linked or hetero-linked, i.e. it may be linked to the remainder of the molecule through a carbon atom or through O, S(O)q, N, P(O)r or Si.
  • [0186]
    The term “heterocycloalkyl” includes cycloalkyl groups in which up to six carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to five carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to four carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to three carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the cycloalkyl carbon atoms remains. Examples of heterocycloalkyl groups include oxiranyl, thiaranyl, aziridinyl, oxetanyl, thiatanyl, azetidinyl, tetrahydrofuranyl, tetrahydrothiophenyl, pyrrolidinyl, tetrahydropyranyl, tetrahydrothiopyranyl, piperidinyl, 1,4-dioxanyl, 1,4-oxathianyl, morpholinyl, 1,4-dithianyl, piperazinyl, 1,4-azathianyl, oxepanyl, thiepanyl, azepanyl, 1,4-dioxepanyl, 1,4-oxathiepanyl, 1,4-oxaazepanyl, 1,4-dithiepanyl, 1,4-thieazepanyl and 1,4-diazepanyl. The heterocycloalkyl group may be C-linked or N-linked, i.e. it may be linked to the remainder of the molecule through a carbon atom or through a nitrogen atom.
  • [0187]
    The term “heteroalkenyl” includes alkenyl groups in which up to three carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the alkenyl carbon atoms remains. The heteroalkenyl group may be C-linked or hetero-linked, i.e. it may be linked to the remainder of the molecule through a carbon atom or through O, S(O)q or N.
  • [0188]
    The term “heterocycloalkenyl” includes cycloalkenyl groups in which up to three carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the cycloalkenyl carbon atoms remains. Examples of heterocycloalkenyl groups include 3,4-dihydro-2H-pyranyl, 5-6-dihydro-2H-pyranyl, 2H-pyranyl, 1,2,3,4-tetrahydropyridinyl and 1,2,5,6-tetrahydropyridinyl. The heterocycloalkenyl group may be C-linked or N-linked, i.e. it may be linked to the remainder of the molecule through a carbon atom or through a nitrogen atom.
  • [0189]
    The term “heteroalkynyl” includes alkynyl groups in which up to three carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the alkynyl carbon atoms remains. The heteroalkynyl group may be C-linked or hetero-linked, i.e. it may be linked to the remainder of the molecule through a carbon atom or through O, S(O)q or N.
  • [0190]
    The term “heterocycloalkynyl” includes cycloalkynyl groups in which up to three carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the cycloalkynyl carbon atoms remains. The heterocycloalkenyl group may be C-linked or N-linked, i.e. it may be linked to the remainder of the molecule through a carbon atom or through a nitrogen atom.
  • [0191]
    The term “heteroalkylene” includes alkylene groups in which up to three carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the alkylene carbon atoms remains.
  • [0192]
    The term “heteroalkenylene” includes alkenylene groups in which up to three carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the alkenylene carbon atoms remains.
  • [0193]
    The term “heteroalkynylene” includes alkynylene groups in which up to three carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q or N, provided at least one of the alkynylene carbon atoms remains.
  • [0194]
    Aryl
  • [0195]
    The term “aryl” includes monovalent, aromatic, cyclic hydrocarbyl groups, such as phenyl or naphthyl (e.g. 1-naphthyl or 2-naphthyl). In general, the aryl groups may be monocyclic or polycyclic fused ring aromatic groups. Preferred aryl are C6-C10aryl.
  • [0196]
    Other examples of aryl groups are monovalent derivatives of aceanthrylene, acenaphthylene, acephenanthrylene, anthracene, azulene, chrysene, coronene, fluoranthene, fluorene, as-indacene, s-indacene, indene, naphthalene, ovalene, perylene, phenalene, phenanthrene, picene, pleiadene, pyrene, pyranthrene and rubicene.
  • [0197]
    The term “arylalkyl” means alkyl substituted with an aryl group, e.g. benzyl.
  • [0198]
    The term “arylene” includes divalent aromatic, cyclic hydrocarbyl groups, such as phenylene. In general, the arylene groups may be monocyclic or polycyclic fused ring aromatic groups. Preferred arylene are C6-C10arylene. Other examples of arylene groups are divalent derivatives of aceanthrylene, acenaphthylene, acephenanthrylene, anthracene, azulene, chrysene, coronene, fluoranthene, fluorene, as-indacene, s-indacene, indene, naphthalene, ovalene, perylene, phenalene, phenanthrene, picene, pleiadene, pyrene, pyranthrene and rubicene.
  • [0199]
    Heteroaryl
  • [0200]
    The term “heteroaryl” includes monovalent, heteroaromatic, cyclic hydrocarbyl groups additionally containing one or more heteroatoms independently selected from O, S, N and NRN, where RN is defined below (and in one embodiment is H or alkyl (e.g. C1-6alkyl)).
  • [0201]
    In general, the heteroaryl groups may be monocyclic or polycyclic (e.g. bicyclic) fused ring heteroaromatic groups. In one embodiment, heteroaryl groups contain 5-13 ring members (preferably 5-10 members) and 1, 2, 3 or 4 ring heteroatoms independently selected from O, S, N and NRN. In one embodiment, a heteroaryl group may be 5, 6, 9 or 10 membered, e.g. 5-membered monocyclic, 6-membered monocyclic, 9-membered fused-ring bicyclic or 10-membered fused-ring bicyclic.
  • [0202]
    Monocyclic heteroaromatic groups include heteroaromatic groups containing 5-6 ring members and 1, 2, 3 or 4 heteroatoms selected from O, S, N or NRN.
  • [0203]
    In one embodiment, 5-membered monocyclic heteroaryl groups contain 1 ring member which is an —NRN— group, an —O— atom or an —S— atom and, optionally, 1-3 ring members (e.g. 1 or 2 ring members) which are ═N— atoms (where the remainder of the 5 ring members are carbon atoms).
  • [0204]
    Examples of 5-membered monocyclic heteroaryl groups are pyrrolyl, furanyl, thiophenyl, pyrazolyl, imidazolyl, isoxazolyl, oxazolyl, isothiazolyl, thiazolyl, 1,2,3 triazolyl, 1,2,4 triazolyl, 1,2,3 oxadiazolyl, 1,2,4 oxadiazolyl, 1,2,5 oxadiazolyl, 1,3,4 oxadiazolyl, 1,3,4 thiadiazolyl, pyridyl, pyrimidinyl, pyridazinyl, pyrazinyl, 1,3,5 triazinyl, 1,2,4 triazinyl, 1,2,3 triazinyl and tetrazolyl.
  • [0205]
    Examples of 6-membered monocyclic heteroaryl groups are pyridinyl, pyridazinyl, pyrimidinyl and pyrazinyl.
  • [0206]
    In one embodiment, 6-membered monocyclic heteroaryl groups contain 1 or 2 ring members which are ═N— atoms (where the remainder of the 6 ring members are carbon atoms).
  • [0207]
    Bicyclic heteroaromatic groups include fused-ring heteroaromatic groups containing 9-13 ring members and 1, 2, 3, 4 or more heteroatoms selected from O, S, N or NRN.
  • [0208]
    In one embodiment, 9-membered bicyclic heteroaryl groups contain 1 ring member which is an —NRN— group, an —O— atom or an —S— atom and, optionally, 1-3 ring members (e.g. 1 or 2 ring members) which are ═N— atoms (where the remainder of the 9 ring members are carbon atoms).
  • [0209]
    Examples of 9-membered fused-ring bicyclic heteroaryl groups are benzofuranyl, benzothiophenyl, indolyl, benzimidazolyl, indazolyl, benzotriazolyl, pyrrolo[2,3-b]pyridinyl, pyrrolo[2,3-c]pyridinyl, pyrrolo[3,2-c]pyridinyl, pyrrolo[3,2-b]pyridinyl, imidazo[4,5-b]pyridinyl, imidazo[4,5-c]pyridinyl, pyrazolo[4,3-d]pyridinyl, pyrazolo[4,3-c]pyridinyl, pyrazolo[3,4-c]pyridinyl, pyrazolo[3,4-b]pyridinyl, isoindolyl, indazolyl, purinyl, indolininyl, imidazo[1,2-a]pyridinyl, imidazo[1,5-a]pyridinyl, pyrazolo[1,2-a]pyridinyl, pyrrolo[1,2-b]pyridazinyl and imidazo[1,2-c]pyrimidinyl.
  • [0210]
    In one embodiment, 10-membered bicyclic heteroaryl groups contain 1-3 ring members which are ═N— atoms (Where the remainder of the 10 ring members are carbon atoms).
  • [0211]
    Examples of 10-membered fused-ring bicyclic heteroaryl groups are quinolinyl, isoquinolinyl, cinnolinyl, quinazolinyl, quinoxalinyl, phthalazinyl, 1,6-naphthyridinyl, 1,7-naphthyridinyl, 1,8-naphthyridinyl, 1,5-naphthyridinyl, 2,6-naphthyridinyl, 2,7-naphthyridinyl, pyrido [3 ,2-d]pyrimidinyl, pyrido[4,3-d]pyrimidinyl, pyrido[3,4-d]pyrimidinyl, pyrido [2,3-d]pyrimidinyl, pyrido[2,3-b]pyrazinyl, pyrido[3,4-b]pyrazinyl, pyrimido[5,4-d]pyrimidinyl, pyrazino[2,3-b]pyrazinyl and pyrimido[4,5-d]pyrimidinyl.
  • [0212]
    The term “heteroarylalkyl” means alkyl substituted with a heteroaryl group.
  • [0213]
    The term “heteroarylene” includes divalent heteroaromatic, cyclic hydrocarbyl groups additionally containing one or more heteroatoms independently selected from O, S, N and NRN, where RN is defined below (and in one embodiment is H or alkyl (e.g. C1-6alkyl)). In general, the heteroarylene groups may be monocyclic or polycyclic (e.g. bicyclic) fused ring heteroaromatic groups. In one embodiment, heteroarylene groups contain 5-13 ring members (preferably 5-10 members) and 1, 2, 3 or 4 ring heteroatoms independently selected from O, S, N and NRN. In one embodiment, a heteroarylene group may be 5, 6, 9 or 10 membered, e.g. 5-membered monocyclic, 6-membered monocyclic, 9-membered fused-ring bicyclic or 10-membered fused-ring bicyclic. The term “heteroarylene” includes divalent derivatives of each of the heteroaryl groups discussed above.
  • [0214]
    The terms “aryl”, “aromatic”, “heteroaryl” and “heteroaromatic” also include groups that are partially reduced. Thus, for example, “heteroaryl” includes fused species in which one of the rings has been reduced to a saturated ring (e.g. 1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-1,8-naphthyridin-2-yl).
  • [0215]
    General
  • [0216]
    Unless indicated explicitly otherwise, where combinations of groups are referred to herein as one moiety, e.g. arylalkyl, the last mentioned group contains the atom by which the moiety is attached to the rest of the molecule.
  • [0217]
    Where reference is made to a carbon atom of an alkyl group or other group being replaced by O, S(O)q, N or P(O)r, what is intended is that:
  • [0000]
  • [0000]
    is replaced by
  • [0000]
  • [0000]
    (wherein E cannot be H);
  • [0218]
    —CH=is replaced by —N= or —P(O)r═;
  • [0219]
    ≡C—H is replaced by ≡N or ≡P(O)r; or
  • [0220]
    —CH2— is replaced by —O—, —S(O)q—, —NRN— or —P(O)RN—, where RN is H or optionally substituted C1-6alkyl, C1-6heteroalkyl, C3-6cycloalkyl, C3-6heterocycloalkyl, C2-6alkenyl, C2-6heteroalkenyl, C3-6cycloalkenyl, C3-6heterocycloalkenyl, phenyl, or heteroaryl containing 5 or 6 ring members. RN is preferably H, C1-6alkyl or C3-6cycloalkyl.
  • [0221]
    q is independently 0, 1 or 2. In one embodiment, q is 0.
  • [0222]
    r is independently 0 or 1. In one embodiment, r is 0.
  • [0223]
    Where reference is made to a carbon atom being replaced by Si, what is intended is that the carbon atom is swapped for a silicon atom but that the bonds otherwise remain the same. Thus, for example, —CH2— is replaced by —SiH2—; —CH= is replaced by —SiH=; and ≡C—H is replaced by
  • [0224]
    By way of clarification, in relation to the above mentioned heteroatom containing groups (such as heteroalkyl etc.), where a numerical of carbon atoms is given, for instance C3-6heteroalkyl, what is intended is a group based on C3-6alkyl in which one or more of the 3-6 chain carbon atoms is replaced by O, S(O)q or N. Accordingly, a C3-6heteroalkyl group would, for example, contain less than 3-6 chain carbon atoms. As another example, a pyridyl group would be classed as a C6 heteroaryl group even though it contains 5 carbon atoms.
  • [0225]
    Substitution
  • [0226]
    Groups of the compounds of the invention (e.g. alkyl, cycloalkyl, alkoxy, alkenyl, cycloalkenyl, alkynyl, alkylene, alkenylene, heteroalkyl, heterocycloalkyl, heteroalkenyl, heterocycloalkenyl, heteroalkynyl, heteroalkylene, heteroalkenylene aryl, arylalkyl, arylheteroalkyl, heteroaryl, heteroarylalkyl or heteroarylheteroalkyl groups etc.) may be substituted or unsubstituted, in one embodiment unsubstituted. Typically, substitution involves the notional replacement of a hydrogen atom with a substituent group, or two hydrogen atoms in the case of substitution by ═O.
  • [0227]
    Where substituted, there will generally be 1 to 5 substituents on each group, in one embodiment 1 to 3 substituents, in one embodiment 1 or 2 substituents, in one embodiment 1 substituent. One embodiment includes more than one substituent on the same atom, e.g. an acetal group.
  • [0228]
    In one embodiment, the substituent(s) is/are independently Sub' or Sub2 (in one embodiment Sub2) wherein:
      • Sub1 is independently halogen, trihalomethyl, trihaloethyl, —NO2, —CN,—N+(Rs)2O, —CO2H, —CO2Rs, —SO3H, —SORs, —SO2Rs, —SO3Rs, —OC(═O)ORs, —C(═O)H, —C(═O)Rs, —OC(═O)Rs, ═O, —NRs 2, —C(═O)NH2, —C(═O)NRs 2, —N(Rs)C(═O)ORs, —N(Rs)C(═O)NRs 2, —OC(═O)NRs 2, —N(Rs)C(═O)Rs, —C(═S)NRs 2, —NRsC(═S)Rs, —SO2NRs 2, —NRsSO2Rs, —N(Rs)C(═S)NRs 2, —N(Rs)SO2NRs 2, —Rs or —ZsRs,
        wherein;
        • Zs is independently O, S or NRs;
        • Rs is independently H or C1-6alkyl, C1-6heteroalkyl, -(Alka)f-C3-6cycloalkyl, -(Alka)f-C3-6heterocycloalkyl, C2-6alkenyl, C2-6heteroalkenyl, -(Alka)f-C3-6cycloalkenyl, -(Alka)f-C3-6heterocycloalkenyl, C2-6alkynyl, C2-6heteroalkynyl, -(Alka)f-C6-14aryl, -(Alka)f-C6-14aryl or -(Alka)f-heteroaryl (where heteroaryl contains 5-13 ring members), where
          • f is 0 or 1;
          • Alka is C1-6alkylene or C1-6heteroalkylene; and
          • Rs is optionally substituted itself (in one embodiment unsubstituted) by 1 to 3 substituents Sub2;
      • Sub2 is independently halogen, trihalomethyl, trihaloethyl, —NO2, —CN, —N+(C1-6alkyl)2O, —CO2H, —CO2C1-6alkyl, —SO3H, —SOC1-6alkyl, —SO2C1-6alkyl, —SO3C1-6alkyl, —OC(═O)OC1-6alkyl, —C(═O)H, —C(═O)C1-6alkyl, —OC(═O)C1-6alkyl, ═O, —N(C1-6alkyl)2, —C(═O)NH2, —C(O)N(C1-6alkyl)2, —N(C1-6alkyl)C(═O)O(C1-6alkyl), —N(C1-6alkyl)C(═O)N(C1-6alkyl)2, —OC(═O)N(C1-6alkyl)2, —N(C1-6alkyl)C(═O)C alkyl, —C(═S)N(C 1-6alkyl)2, —N(C1-6alkyl)C(═S)C1-6alkyl, —SO2N(C 1-6alkyl)2, —N(C1-6alkyl)SO2C1-6alkyl, —N(C1-6alkyl)C(═S)N(C1-6alkyl)2, —N(C1-6alkyl)SO2N(C1-6alkyl)2, —C1-6alkyl, -C1-6heteroalkyl, —C3-6cycloalkyl, —C3-6heterocycloalkyl, —C2-6alkenyl, —C2-6heteroalkenyl, —C3-6cycloalkenyl, —C3-6heterocycloalkenyl, —C2-6alkynyl, —C2-6heteroalkynyl, —C6-14aryl, —C5-13hetero, aryl, —Zt—C1-6alkyl, —Zt—C3-6cycloalkyl, —Zt—C2-6alkenyl, —Zt—C3-6cycloalkenyl, or —Zt—C2-6alkynyl; and
        • Zt is independently O, S, NH or N(C1-6alkyl).
  • [0237]
    While Rs in Sub1 can be optionally substituted by 1 to 3 substituents Sub2, Sub2 is unsubstituted.
  • [0238]
    However, in one embodiment, Rs is unsubstituted.
  • [0239]
    In one embodiment, Rs is H or C1-6alkyl, optionally substituted by 1 to 3 substituents Sub2.
  • [0240]
    In one embodiment, Sub2 is independently halogen, trihalomethyl, trihaloethyl, —NO2, —CN, —N+(C1-6alkyl)2O,—CO2H, —SO3H, —SOC1-6alkyl, —SO2C1-6alkyl, —C(═O)H, —C(═O)C1-6alkyl, ═O, —N(C1-6alkyl)2, —C(═O)NH2, —C1-6alkyl, —C3-6cycloalkyl, —C3-6heterocycloalkyl, —Zt—C1-6alkyl or —Zt—C3-6cycloalkyl.
  • [0241]
    In one embodiment, where the substituted group is acyclic (e.g. alkyl, heteroalkyl, alkenyl etc.), Sub1 is not —Rs and Sub2 is not —C1-6alkyl, —C1-6heteroalkyl, —C2-6alkenyl, —C2-6heteroalkenyl, —C2-6alkynyl or —C2-6heteroalkynyl.
  • [0242]
    Where a group other than Sub2 has at least 2 positions which may be substituted, the group may be substituted by both ends of an alkylene, alkenylene, alkynylene, heteroalkylene, heteroalkenylene or heteroalkynylene chain (in one embodiment containing 1 to 6 atoms, in a further embodiment 3 to 6 atoms, and in a further embodiment 3 or 4 atoms) to form a cyclic moiety. That chain is optionally substituted by 1 to 3 substituents Sub2. In one embodiment that chain is not substituted. Thus, the terms optionally substituted “cycloalkyl”, “cycloalkenyl”, “cycloalkynyl”, “heterocycloalkyl”, “heterocycloalkenyl”, “heterocycloalkynyl”, “aryl” and “heteroaryl” include fused species. E.g. “optionally substituted cycloalkyl” includes a species in which two cycloalkyl rings are fused, and “optionally substituted heteroaryl” includes a species in which a heterocycloalkyl ring is fused to the aromatic ring (e.g. 5 ,6,7,8-tetrahydro- 1 ,8-naphthyridin-2-yl).
  • [0243]
    Where a group other than Sub2 has an atom which may be substituted twice, that atom may be substituted by both ends of an alkylene, alkenylene, alkynylene, heteroalkylene, heteroalkenylene or heteroalkynylene chain (in one embodiment containing 2 to 8 atoms, in a further embodiment 3 to 6 atoms, and in a further embodiment 4 or 5 atoms) to form a cyclic moiety. That chain is optionally substituted by 1 to 3 substituents Sub2. In one embodiment that chain is not substituted. Thus, the terms optionally substituted “cycloalkyl”, “cycloalkenyl”, “cycloalkynyl”, “heterocycloalkyl”, “heterocycloalkenyl”, “heterocycloalkynyl”, “aryl” and “heteroaryl” include spiro species.
  • [0244]
    By way of clarification, when a group has a heteroatom, a substituent may be bonded to the heteroatom. Thus, for example, “optionally substituted heteroalkyl” includes —CH2—N(Sub1)—CH2—, —CH(Sub1)—NH—CH2— and —CH(Sub1)—N(Sub1)—CH2— etc.
  • [0245]
    Modifier Terms
  • [0246]
    When a list is preceded by a modifier, it is intended that the modifier is to be understood as applying to each of the items in the list. For example, the phrase “optionally substituted C3-20-heterocycloalkyl, C3-20-heterocycloalkenyl, C3-20-heterocycloalkynyl or C5.20-heteroaryl group” means that each of the four items in the list, namely the C3-20-heterocycloalkyl group, the C3-20-heterocycloalkenyl group, the C3-20-heterocycloalkynyl group and the C6-20-heteroaryl group, may be optionally substituted.
  • [0247]
    When a group is characterised by a first modifier and then, later on, the same group is characterised by a subsequent modifier, what is meant is that the group is characterised by both modifiers simultaneously. For example, if a group is described as a “C3-20-heterocycloalkynyl” (the first modifier) group and then later the same group is described as a “C5-16” (the subsequent modifier) group, what is meant is a C5-16 heterocycloalkynyl group.
  • [0248]
    Steroids
  • [0249]
    As used herein, the term “steroid” refers to any group comprising the following structure (which structure is referred to herein as the “steroid skeleton”).
  • [0000]
  • [0250]
    Purely for the purposes of illustration, the steroid skeleton has been drawn above as fully saturated. The term steroid, however, is also intended to cover instances where there is unsaturation in the steroid skeleton. For example, the term steroid covers a group which comprises the fully unsaturated (mancude) basic skeleton, 15H-cyclopenta[a]phenanthrene:
  • [0000]
  • [0251]
    The term steroid also covers a group which comprises a partially unsaturated steroid skeleton.
  • [0252]
    The term steroid also covers “seco” derivatives of the steroid skeleton, i.e. groups in which ring cleavage has been effected; “nor” and “homo” derivatives of the steroid skeleton which involve ring contraction and expansion, respectively (see Systemic Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry, by D. Hellwinkel, published by Springer, 2001, ISBN: 3-540-41138-0, page 203 for “seco” and page 204 for “nor” and “homo”). In one embodiment, however, such seco derivatives are not encompassed by the term “steroid”. In another embodiment, such nor derivatives are not encompassed by the term “steroid”. In another embodiment, such homo derivatives are not encompassed by the term “steroid”. Thus in one embodiment, such seco, nor and homo derivatives are not encompassed by the term “steroid”.
  • [0253]
    The term steroid also covers instances where one or more of the carbon atoms in the structure labelled steroid skeleton is replaced by a heteroatom. In one such embodiment, up to six carbon atoms, in one embodiment up to five carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to four carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to three carbon atoms, in another embodiment up to two carbon atoms, in another embodiment one carbon atom, are each replaced independently by O, S(O)q, N, P(O)r or Si (and preferably O, S(O)q or N). In one embodiment, however, the term “steroid” comprises species in which the “steroid basic skeleton” contains no heteroatoms.
  • [0254]
    A steroid ring system is numbered according to the convention set out below.
  • [0000]
  • [0255]
    The term steroid encompasses sterols, steroid hormones, bile acids and salts of bile acids. A sterol is any steroid with a hydroxyl group at the 3-position of the A-ring.
  • [0256]
    Unsaturation
  • [0257]
    In accordance with standard use, the omega-3 position refers to the third bond from the (methyl) terminal of the chain; the omega-6 position refers to the sixth bond from the (methyl) terminal of the chain and the omega-9 position refers to the ninth bond from the (methyl) terminal of the chain.
  • [0258]
    General
  • [0259]
    The practice of the present invention will employ, unless otherwise indicated, conventional methods of chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology and pharmacology, within the skill of the art. Such techniques are explained fully in the literature. See, e.g., references 33-39, etc.
  • [0260]
    The term “comprising” encompasses “including” as well as “consisting” e.g. a composition “comprising” X may consist exclusively of X or may include something additional e.g. X+Y.
  • [0261]
    The term “about” in relation to a numerical value x is optional and means, for example, x±10%.
  • [0262]
    The word “substantially” does not exclude “completely” e.g. a composition which is “substantially free” from Y may be completely free from Y. Where necessary, the word “substantially” may be omitted from the definition of the invention.
  • [0263]
    References to charge, to cations, to anions, to zwitterions, etc., are taken at pH 7.
  • [0264]
    TLR3 is the Toll-like receptor 3. It is a single membrane-spanning receptor which plays a key role in the innate immune system. Known TLR3 agonists include poly(I:C). “TLR3” is the approved HGNC name for the gene encoding this receptor, and its unique HGNC ID is HGNC:11849. The RefSeq sequence for the human TLR3 gene is GI:2459625.
  • [0265]
    TLR7 is the Toll-like receptor 7. It is a single membrane-spanning receptor which plays a key role in the innate immune system. Known TLR7 agonists include e.g. imiquimod. “TLR7” is the approved HGNC name for the gene encoding this receptor, and its unique HGNC ID is HGNC:15631. The RefSeq sequence for the human TLR7 gene is GI:67944638.
  • [0266]
    TLR8 is the Toll-like receptor 8. It is a single membrane-spanning receptor which plays a key role in the innate immune system. Known TLR8 agonists include e.g. resiquimod. “TLR8” is the approved HGNC name for the gene encoding this receptor, and its unique HGNC ID is HGNC:15632. The RefSeq sequence for the human TLR8 gene is GI:20302165.
  • [0267]
    The RIG-I-like receptor (“RLR”) family includes various RNA helicases which play key roles in the innate immune system[40]. RLR-1 (also known as RIG-I or retinoic acid inducible gene I) has two caspase recruitment domains near its N-terminus. The approved HGNC name for the gene encoding the RLR-1 helicase is “DDX58” (for DEAD (Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp) box polypeptide 58) and the unique HGNC ID is HGNC:19102. The RefSeq sequence for the human RLR-1 gene is GI:77732514. RLR-2 (also known as MDA5 or melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5) also has two caspase recruitment domains near its N-terminus. The approved HGNC name for the gene encoding the RLR-2 helicase is “IFIH1” (for interferon induced with helicase C domain 1) and the unique HGNC ID is HGNC:18873. The RefSeq sequence for the human RLR-2 gene is GI: 27886567. RLR-3 (also known as LGP2 or laboratory of genetics and physiology 2) has no caspase recruitment domains. The approved HGNC name for the gene encoding the RLR-3 helicase is “DHX58” (for DEXH (Asp-Glu-X-His) box polypeptide 58) and the unique HGNC ID is HGNC:29517. The RefSeq sequence for the human RLR-3 gene is GI:149408121.
  • [0268]
    PKR is a double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase. It plays a key role in the innate immune system. “EIF2AK2” (for eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-alpha kinase 2) is the approved HGNC name for the gene encoding this enzyme, and its unique HGNC ID is HGNC:9437. The RefSeq sequence for the human PKR gene is GI:208431825.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • [0269]
    FIG. 1 shows a gel with stained RNA. Lanes show (1) markers (2) naked replicon (3) replicon after RNase treatment (4) replicon encapsulated in liposome (5) liposome after RNase treatment (6) liposome treated with RNase then subjected to phenol/chloroform extraction.
  • [0270]
    FIG. 2 is an electron micrograph of liposomes.
  • [0271]
    FIG. 3 shows protein expression (as relative light units, RLU) at days 1, 3 and 6 after delivery of RNA in liposomes With PEGs of different lengths: 1 kDa (triangles); 2 kDa (circles); 3 kDa (squares).
  • [0272]
    FIG. 4 shows a gel with stained RNA. Lanes show (1) markers (2) naked replicon (3 ) replicon encapsulated in liposome (4) liposome treated with RNase then subjected to phenol/chloroform extraction.
  • [0273]
    FIG. 5 shows protein expression at days 1, 3 and 6 after delivery of RNA as a virion-packaged replicon (squares), as naked RNA (diamonds), or in liposomes (+=0.1 μg,×=1 μg).
  • [0274]
    FIG. 6 shows protein expression at days 1, 3 and 6 after delivery of four different doses of liposome-encapsulated RNA.
  • [0275]
    FIG. 7 shows anti-F IgG titers in animals receiving virion-packaged replicon (VRP or VSRP), naked RNA, and 1 μg liposome-encapsulated RNA.
  • [0276]
    FIG. 8 shows anti-F IgG titers in animals receiving VRP, 1 μg naked RNA, and 0.1 g or liposome-encapsulated RNA.
  • [0277]
    FIG. 9 shows neutralising antibody titers in animals receiving VRP or either 0.1 g or 1 μg liposome-encapsulated RNA.
  • [0278]
    FIG. 10 shows expression levels after delivery of a replicon as naked RNA (circles), liposome-encapsulated RNA (triangle & square), or as a lipoplex (inverted triangle).
  • [0279]
    FIG. 11 shows F-specific IgG titers (2 weeks after second dose) after delivery of a replicon as naked RNA (0.01-1 μg), liposome-encapsulated RNA (0.01-10μg), or packaged as a virion (VRP, 106 infectious units or IU).
  • [0280]
    FIG. 12 shows F-specific IgG titers (circles) and PRNT titers (squares) after delivery of a replicon as naked RNA (1 μg), liposome-encapsulated RNA (0.1 or 1 μg), or packaged as a virion (VRP, 106 IU). Titers in naive mice are also shown. Solid lines show geometric means.
  • [0281]
    FIG. 13 shows intracellular cytokine production after restimulation with synthetic peptides representing the major epitopes in the F protein, 4 weeks after a second dose. The y-axis shows the % cytokine+ of CD8+CD4−.
  • [0282]
    FIG. 14 shows the structure of lipid “RV05”.
  • [0283]
    FIG. 15 shows F-specific IgG titers (mean log10 titers±std dev) over 210 days after immunisation of calves. The three lines are easily distinguished at day 63 and are, from bottom to top: PBS negative control; liposome-delivered RNA; and the “Triangle 4” product.
  • [0284]
    FIG. 16 shows structures of three PEG-conjugated DMG lipids (1-3 kDa).
  • [0285]
    FIGS. 17A to 17E show structures of various PEG-conjugated lipids, where R is PEG of a desired length.
  • [0286]
    FIG. 18 shows the structure of a useful “split” PEG-conjugated lipid. The box shows the total MW of PEG in the lipid (which, in the specific example below, was 2000).
  • MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
  • [0287]
    RNA Replicons
  • [0288]
    Various replicons are used below. In general these are based on a hybrid alphavirus genome with non-structural proteins from venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), a packaging signal from VEEV, and a 3′ UTR from Sindbis virus or a VEEV mutant. The replicon is about 10 kb long and has a poly-A tail.
  • [0289]
    Plasmid DNA encoding alphavirus replicons (named: pT7-mVEEV-FL.RSVF or A317; pT7-mVEEV-SEAP or A306; pSP6-VCR-GFP or A50) served as a template for synthesis of RNA in vitro. The replicons contain the alphavirus genetic elements required for RNA replication but lack those encoding gene products necessary for particle assembly; the structural proteins are instead replaced by a protein of interest (either a reporter, such as SEAP or GFP, or an immunogen, such as full-length RSV F protein) and so the replicons are incapable of inducing the generation of infectious particles. A bacteriophage (T7 or SP6) promoter upstream of the alphavirus cDNA facilitates the synthesis of the replicon RNA in vitro and a hepatitis delta virus (HDV) ribozyme immediately downstream of the poly(A)-tail generates the correct 3′-end through its self-cleaving activity.
  • [0290]
    Following linearization of the plasmid DNA downstream of the HDV ribozyme with a suitable restriction endonuclease, run-off transcripts were synthesized in vitro using T7 or SP6 bacteriophage derived DNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Transcriptions were performed for 2 hours at 37° C. in the presence of 7.5 mM (T7 RNA polymerase) or 5 mM (SP6 RNA polymerase) of each of the nucleoside triphosphates (ATP, CTP, GTP and UTP) following the instructions provided by the manufacturer (Ambion). Following transcription the template DNA was digested with TURBO DNase (Ambion). The replicon RNA was precipitated with LiCI and reconstituted in nuclease-free water. Uncapped RNA was capped post-transcriptionally with Vaccinia Capping Enzyme (VCE) using the ScriptCap m7G Capping System (Epicentre Biotechnologies) as outlined in the user manual; replicons capped in this way are given the “v” prefix e.g. vA317 is the A317 replicon capped by VCE. Post-transcriptionally capped RNA was precipitated with LiCl and reconstituted in nuclease-free water. The concentration of the RNA samples was determined by measuring OD260 nm. Integrity of the in vitro transcripts was confirmed by denaturing agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • [0291]
    Liposomal Encapsulation
  • [0292]
    RNA was encapsulated in liposomes made essentially by the method of references 7 and 41. The liposomes were made of 10% DSPC (zwitterionic), 40% DlinDMA (cationic), 48% cholesterol and 2% PEG-conjugated DMG. These proportions refer to the % moles in the total liposome.
  • [0293]
    DlinDMA (1,2-dilinoleyloxy-N,N-dimethyl-3-aminopropane) was synthesized using the procedure of reference 2. DSPC (1,2-Diastearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) was purchased from Genzyme. Cholesterol was obtained from Sigma-Aldrich. PEG-conjugated DMG (1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-[methoxy(polyethylene glycol), ammonium salt), DOTAP (1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium-propane, chloride salt) and DC-chol (3β-[N-(N′,N′-dimethylaminoethane)-carbamoylicholesterol hydrochloride) were from Avanti Polar Lipids.
  • [0294]
    Briefly, lipids were dissolved in ethanol (2 ml), a RNA replicon was dissolved in buffer (2 ml, 100 mM sodium citrate, pH 6) and these were mixed with 2 ml of buffer followed by 1 hour of equilibration.
  • [0295]
    The mixture was diluted with 6 ml buffer then filtered. The resulting product contained liposomes, with −95% encapsulation efficiency. FIG. 2 shows an example electron micrograph of liposomes prepared by these methods. These liposomes contain encapsulated RNA encoding full-length RSV F antigen. Dynamic light scattering of one batch showed an average diameter of 141 nm (by intensity) or 78 nm (by number).
  • [0296]
    In one particular encapsulation method, fresh lipid stock solutions in ethanol were prepared. 37 mg of DlinDMA, 11.8 mg of DSPC, 27.8 mg of Cholesterol and 8.07 mg of PEG-conjugated DMG were weighed and dissolved in 7.55 mL of ethanol. Five different conjugated PEGs were used: PEG-500, PEG-750, PEG-1000, PEG-2000 or PEG-3000. The freshly prepared lipid stock solution was gently rocked at 37° C. for about 15 min to form a homogenous mixture. Then, 226.7 μL of the stock was added to 1.773 mL ethanol to make a working lipid stock solution of 2 mL. A 2 mL working solution of RNA was also prepared from a stock solution of ˜1 μg/μL in 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6). Three 20 mL glass vials (with stir bars) were rinsed with RNase Away solution and washed with plenty of MilliQ water before use to decontaminate the vials of RNAses. One of the vials was used for the RNA working solution and the others for collecting the lipid and RNA mixes (as described later). The working lipid and RNA solutions were heated at 37° C. for 10 min before being loaded into 3cc luer-lok syringes. 2 mL of citrate buffer (pH 6) was loaded in another 3 cc syringe. Syringes containing RNA and the lipids were connected to a T mixer (PEEK™ 500 μm ID junction) using FEP tubing(fluorinated ethylene-propylene; all FEP tubing used had a 2 mm internal diameter and a 3 mm outer diameter; obtained from Idex Health Science). The outlet from the T mixer was also FEP tubing. The third syringe containing the citrate buffer was connected to a separate piece of tubing. All syringes were then driven at a flow rate of 7 mL/min using a syringe pump. The tube outlets were positioned to collect the mixtures in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). The stir bar was taken out and the ethanol/aqueous solution was allowed to equilibrate to room temperature for 1 hour. Then the mixture was loaded in a 5 cc syringe, which was fitted to a piece of FEP tubing and in another 5 cc syringe with equal length of FEP tubing, an equal volume of 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6) was loaded. The two syringes were driven at 7 mL/min flow rate using a syringe pump and the final mixture collected in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). Next, liposomes were concentrated to 2 mL and dialyzed against 10-15 volumes of 1×PBS using a Tangential Flow Filtration (TFF) system before recovering the final product. The TFF system and hollow fiber filtration membranes were purchased from Spectrum Labs and were used according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Hollow fiber filtration membranes with a 100 kD pore size cutoff and 20 cm2 surface area were used. For in vitro and in vivo experiments, formulations were diluted to the required RNA concentration with 1×PBS.
  • [0297]
    The percentage of encapsulated RNA and RNA concentration were determined by Quant-iT RiboGreen RNA reagent kit (Invitrogen), following manufacturer's instructions. The ribosomal RNA standard provided in the kit was used to generate a standard curve. Liposomes were diluted 10× or 100× in 1× TE buffer (from kit) before addition of the dye. Separately, liposomes were diluted 10× or 100× in 1× TE buffer containing 0.5% Triton X before addition of the dye (to disrupt the liposomes and thus to assay total RNA). Thereafter an equal amount of dye was added to each solution and then ˜180 μL of each solution after dye addition was loaded in duplicate into a 96 well tissue culture plate. The fluorescence (Ex 485 nm, Em 528 nm) was read on a microplate reader. All liposome formulations were dosed in vivo based on the encapsulated amount of RNA.
  • [0298]
    To obtain smaller liposomes the syringe/tube method was replaced by a method in which the lipid and RNA solutions are mixed in channels on a microfluidic chip. Fresh lipid stock solutions in ethanol were prepared. 37 mg of DlinDMA, 11.8 mg of DSPC, 27.8 mg of cholesterol and 8.07 mg of PEG-DMG were weighed and dissolved in 7.55 mL of ethanol. The freshly prepared lipid stock solution was gently rocked at 37° C. for about 15 min to form a homogenous mixture. Then, 226.7 μL of the stock was added to 1.773 mL ethanol to make a working lipid stock solution of 2 mL. A 4 mL working solution of RNA was also prepared from a stock solution of ˜1 μ/μL in 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6). Four 20 mL glass vials (with stir bars) were rinsed with RNase Away solution and washed with plenty of MilliQ water before use to decontaminate the vials of RNAses. Two of the vials were used for the RNA working solution (2 mL in each vial) and the others for collecting the lipid and RNA mixes. The working lipid and RNA solutions were heated at 37° C. for 10 min before being loaded into 3cc luer-lok syringes. Syringes containing RNA and the lipids were connected to a Mitos Droplet junction Chip (a glass microfluidic device obtained from Syrris, Part no. 3000158) using PTFE tubing 0.03 inches ID× 1/16 inch OD, (Syrris) using a 4-way edge connector. Two RNA streams and one lipid stream were driven by syringe pumps and the mixing of the ethanol and aqueous phase was done at the X junction (100 μm×105 μm) of the chip. The flow rate of all three streams was kept at 1.5 ml/min, hence the ratio of total aqueous to ethanolic flow rate was 2:1. The tube outlet was positioned to collect the mixtures in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). The stir bar was taken out and the ethanol/aqueous solution was allowed to equilibrate to room temperature for 1 hour. Then the mixture was loaded in a 5 cc syringe which was fitted to a piece of PTFE tubing 0.03 inches ID x 1/16 inches OD and in another 5 cc syringe with equal length of PTFE tubing, an equal volume of 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6) was loaded. The two syringes were driven at 3 mllmin flow rate using a syringe pump and the final mixture collected in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). Next, liposomes were concentrated to 2 mL and dialyzed against 10-15 volumes of 1×PBS using the TFF system before recovering the final product. Hollow fiber filtration membranes with a 100 kDa pore size cutoff and 20 cm2 surface area were used. For in vitro and in vivo experiments, formulations were diluted to the required RNA concentration with 1×PBS. Whereas liposomes prepared using the syringe/tube method with 75 μg RNA had a Z-average diameter (Zav) of 148 nm and a polydispersity index (pdI) of 0.122, the chip mixing gave liposomes with a Zav of 97 nm and a pdI of 0.086. The proportion of encapsulated RNA decreased slightly from 90% to 87%.
  • [0299]
    Encapsulation in liposomes was shown to protect RNA from RNase digestion. Experiments used 3.8 mAU of RNase A per microgram of RNA, incubated for 30 minutes at room temperature. RNase was inactivated with Proteinase K at 55° C. for 10 minutes. A 1:1 v/v mixture of sample to 25:24:1 v/v/v, phenol:chloroform:isoamyl alcohol was then added to extract the RNA from the lipids into the aqueous phase. Samples were mixed by vortexing for a few seconds and then placed on a centrifuge for 15 minutes at 12 k RPM. The aqueous phase (containing the RNA) was removed and used to analyze the RNA. Prior to loading (400 ng RNA per well) all the samples were incubated with formaldehyde loading dye, denatured for 10 minutes at 65° C. and cooled to room temperature. Ambion Millennium markers were used to approximate the molecular weight of the RNA construct. The gel was run at 90 V. The gel was stained using 0.1% SYBR gold according to the manufacturer's guidelines in water by rocking at room temperature for 1 hour. FIG. 1 shows that RNase completely digests RNA in the absence of encapsulation (lane 3). RNA is undetectable after encapsulation (lane 4), and no change is seen if these liposomes are treated with RNase (lane 4). After RNase-treated liposomes are subjected to phenol extraction, undigested RNA is seen (lane 6). Even after 1 week at 4° C. the RNA could be seen without any fragmentation (FIG. 4, arrow). Protein expression in vivo was unchanged after 6 weeks at 4° C. and one freeze-thaw cycle. Thus liposome-encapsulated RNA is stable.
  • [0300]
    To assess in vivo expression of the RNA a reporter enzyme (SEAP; secreted alkaline phosphatase) was encoded in the replicon, rather than an immunogen. Expression levels were measured in sera diluted 1:4 in 1×Phospha-Light dilution buffer using a chemiluminescent alkaline phosphate substrate. 8-10 week old BALB/c mice (5/group) were injected intramuscularly on day 0, 50 μl per leg with 0.1 μg or 1 μg RNA dose. The same vector was also administered without the liposomes (in RNase free 1X PBS) at 1 μg. Virion-packaged replicons were also tested. Virion-packaged replicons used herein (referred to as “VRPs”) were obtained by the methods of reference 42, where the alphavirus replicon is derived from the mutant VEEV or a chimera derived from the genome of VEEV engineered to contain the 3′ UTR of Sindbis virus and a Sindbis virus packaging signal (PS), packaged by co-electroporating them into BHK cells with defective helper RNAs encoding the Sindbis virus capsid and glycoprotein genes.
  • [0301]
    As shown in FIG. 5, encapsulation increased SEAP levels by about ½ log at the 1 μg dose, and at day 6 expression from a 0.1 μg encapsulated dose matched levels seen with 1 μg unencapsulated dose. By day 3 expression levels exceeded those achieved with VRPs (squares). Thus expressed increased when the RNA was formulated in the liposomes relative to the naked RNA control, even at a 10× lower dose. Expression was also higher relative to the VRP control, but the kinetics of expression were very different (see FIG. 5). Delivery of the RNA with electroporation resulted in increased expression relative to the naked RNA control, but these levels were lower than with liposomes.
  • [0302]
    To assess whether the effect seen in the liposome groups was due merely to the liposome components, or was linked to the encapsulation, the replicon was administered in encapsulated form (with two different purification protocols, 0.1 μg RNA), or mixed with the liposomes after their formation (a non-encapsulated “lipoplex”, 0.1 μg RNA), or as naked RNA (1μg). FIG. 10 shows that the lipoplex gave the lowest levels of expression, showing that shows encapsulation is essential for potent expression.
  • [0303]
    Further SEAP experiments showed a clear dose response in vivo, with expression seen after delivery of as little as ing RNA (FIG. 6). Further experiments comparing expression from encapsulated and naked replicons indicated that 0.01 μg encapsulated RNA was equivalent to 1 μg of naked RNA. At a 0.5 μg dose of RNA the encapsulated material gave a 12-fold higher expression at day 6; at a 0.1 μg dose levels were 24-fold higher at day 6.
  • [0304]
    Rather than looking at average levels in the group, individual animals were also studied. Whereas several animals were non-responders to naked replicons, encapsulation eliminated non-responders.
  • [0305]
    Further experiments replaced DIinDMA with DOTAP. Although the DOTAP liposomes gave better expression than naked replicon, they were inferior to the DlinDMA liposomes (2- to 3-fold difference at day 1).
  • [0306]
    To assess in vivo immunogenicity a replicon was constructed to express full-length F protein from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This was delivered naked (lpg), encapsulated in liposomes (0.1 or 1 μg), or packaged in virions (106 IU; “VRP”) at days 0 and 21. FIG. 7 shows anti-F IgG titers 2 weeks after the second dose, and the liposomes clearly enhance immunogenicity. FIG. 8 shows titers 2 weeks later, by which point there was no statistical difference between the encapsulated RNA at 0.1 μg, the encapsulated RNA at 1μg, or the VRP group. Neutralisation titers (measured as 60% plaque reduction, “PRNT60”) were not significantly different in these three groups 2 weeks after the second dose (FIG. 9). FIG. 12 shows both IgG and PRNT titers 4 weeks after the second dose.
  • [0307]
    FIG. 13 confirms that the RNA elicits a robust CD8 T cell response.
  • [0308]
    Further experiments compared F-specific IgG titers in mice receiving VRP, 0.1 μg liposome-encapsulated RNA, or 1 μg liposome-encapsulated RNA. Titer ratios (VRP: liposome) at various times after the second dose were as follows:
  • [0000]
    2 weeks 4 weeks 8 weeks
    0.1 μg 2.9 1.0 1.1
      1 μg 2.3 0.9 0.9
  • [0309]
    Thus the liposome-encapsulated RNA induces essentially the same magnitude of immune response as seen with virion delivery.
  • [0310]
    Further experiments showed superior F-specific IgG responses with a 10 μg dose, equivalent responses for 1 μg and 0.1 μg doses, and a lower response with a 0.01 μg dose. FIG. 11 shows IgG titers in mice receiving the replicon in naked form at 3 different doses, in liposomes at 4 different doses, or as VRP (106 IU). The response seen with 1 μg liposome-encapsulated RNA was statistically insignificant (ANOVA) when compared to VRP, but the higher response seen with 10 μg liposome-encapsulated RNA was statistically significant (p<0.05) when compared to both of these groups.
  • [0311]
    A further study confirmed that the 0.1 μg of liposome-encapsulated RNA gave much higher anti-F
  • [0312]
    IgG responses (15 days post-second dose) than 0.1 μg of delivered DNA, and even was more immunogenic than 20 μg plasmid DNA encoding the F antigen, delivered by electroporation (Elgen™ DNA Delivery System, Inovio).
  • [0313]
    Liposome Manufacturing Methods
  • [0314]
    In general, eight different methods have been used for preparing liposomes according to the invention. These are referred to in the text as methods (A) to (H) and they differ mainly in relation to filtration and TFF steps. Details are as follows:
      • (A) Fresh lipid stock solutions in ethanol were prepared. 37 mg of DlinDMA, 11.8 mg of DSPC, 27.8 mg of Cholesterol and 8.07 mg of PEG DMG 2000 were weighed and dissolved in 7.55 mL of ethanol. The freshly prepared lipid stock solution was gently rocked at 37° C. for about 15 min to form a homogenous mixture. Then, 755 μL of the stock was added to 1.245 mL ethanol to make a working lipid stock solution of 2 mL. This amount of lipids was used to form liposomes with 250 μg RNA. A 2 mL working solution of RNA was also prepared from a stock solution of ˜1 μg/μL in 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6). Three 20 mL glass vials (with stir bars) were rinsed with RNase Away solution (Molecular BioProducts, San Diego, Calif.) and washed with plenty of MilliQ water before use to decontaminate the vials of RNases. One of the vials was used for the RNA working solution and the others for collecting the lipid and RNA mixes (as described later). The working lipid and RNA solutions were heated at 37° C. for 10 min before being loaded into 3 cc luer-lok syringes. 2 mL of citrate buffer (pH 6) was loaded in another 3 cc syringe. Syringes containing RNA and the lipids were connected to a T mixer (PEEK™ 500 μm ID junction, Idex Health Science, Oak Harbor, Wash.) using FEP tubing (fluorinated ethylene-propylene; al FEP tubing has a 2 mm internal diameter×3 mm outer diameter, supplied by Idex Health Science). The outlet from the T mixer was also FEP tubing. The third syringe containing the citrate buffer was connected to a separate piece of FEP tubing. All syringes were then driven at a flow rate of 7 mL/min using a syringe pump. The tube outlets were positioned to collect the mixtures in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). The stir bar was taken out and the ethanol/aqueous solution was allowed to equilibrate to room temperature for 1 hour. 4 ml of the mixture was loaded into a 5 cc syringe, which was connected to a piece of FEP tubing and in another 5 cc syringe connected to an equal length of FEP tubing, an equal amount of 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6) was loaded. The two syringes were driven at 7 mL/min flow rate using the syringe pump and the final mixture collected in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). Next, the mixture collected from the second mixing step (liposomes) were passed through a Mustang Q membrane (an anion-exchange support that binds and removes anionic molecules, obtained from Pall Corporation, AnnArbor, Mich., USA). Before passing the liposomes, 4 mL of 1 M NaOH, 4 mL of 1 M NaCl and 10 mL of 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6) were successively passed through the Mustang membrane. Liposomes were warmed for 10 min at 37° C. before passing through the membrane. Next, liposomes were concentrated to 2 mL and dialyzed against 10-15 volumes of 1×PBS using TFF before recovering the final product. The TFF system and hollow fiber filtration membranes were purchased from Spectrum Labs and were used according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Polysulfone hollow fiber filtration membranes (part number P/N: XlAB-100-20P) with a 100 kD pore size cutoff and 8 cm2 surface area were used. For in vitro and in vivo experiments, formulations were diluted to the required RNA concentration with 1×PBS.
      • (B) As method (A) except that, after rocking, 226.7 μL of the stock was added to 1.773 mL ethanol to make a working lipid stock solution of 2 mL, thus modifying the lipid:RNA ratio.
      • (C) As method (B) except that the Mustang filtration was omitted, so liposomes went from the 20 mL glass vial into the TFF dialysis.
      • (D) As method (C) except that the TFF used polyethersulfone (PES) hollow fiber membranes (part number P-C1-100E-100-01N) with a 100 kD pore size cutoff and 20 cm2 surface area.
      • (E) As method (D) except that a Mustang membrane was used, as in method (A).
      • (F) As method (A) except that the Mustang filtration was omitted, so liposomes went from the 20 mL glass vial into the TFF dialysis.
      • (G) As method (D) except that a 4 mL working solution of RNA was prepared from a stock solution of ˜1 μg/μL in 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6). Then four 20 mL glass vials were prepared in the same way. Two of them were used for the RNA working solution (2 mL in each vial) and the others for collecting the lipid and RNA mixes, as in (C). Rather than use T mixer, syringes containing RNA and the lipids were connected to a Mitos Droplet junction Chip (a glass microfluidic device obtained from Syrris, Part no. 3000158) using PTFE tubing (0.03 inches internal diameter x 1/16 inch outer diameter) using a 4-way edge connector (Syrris). Two RNA streams and one lipid stream were driven by syringe pumps and the mixing of the ethanol and aqueous phase was done at the X junction (100 μm×105 pm) of the chip. The flow rate of all three streams was kept at 1.5 mL/min, hence the ratio of total aqueous to ethanolic flow rate was 2:1. The tube outlet was positioned to collect the mixtures in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). The stir bar was taken out and the ethanol/aqueous solution was allowed to equilibrate to room temperature for 1 h. Then the mixture was loaded in a 5 cc syringe, which was fitted to another piece of the PTFE tubing; in another 5 cc syringe with equal length of PTFE tubing, an equal volume of 100 mM citrate buffer (pH 6) was loaded. The two syringes were driven at 3 mL/min flow rate using a syringe pump and the final mixture collected in a 20 mL glass vial (while stirring). Next, liposomes were concentrated to 2 mL and dialyzed against 10-15 volumes of 1X PBS using TFF, as in (D).
      • (H) As method (A) except that the 2 mL working lipid stock solution was made by mixing 120.9 μL of the lipid stock with 1.879 mL ethanol. Also, after mixing in the T mixer the liposomes from the 20 mL vial were loaded into Pierce Slide-A-Lyzer Dialysis Cassette (Thermo Scientific, extra strength, 0.5-3 mL capacity) and dialyzed against 400-500 mL of 1X PBS overnight at 4° C. in an autoclaved plastic container before recovering the final product.
  • [0323]
    RSV Immunogenicity
  • [0324]
    The vA317 self-replicating replicon encoding RSV F protein was administered to BALB/c mice, 4 or 8 animals per group, by bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (50 μL per leg) on days 0 and 21 with the replicon (1 μg) alone or formulated as liposomes with DlinDMA (“RV01”) or DOTAP (“RV13”) or the lipid shown in FIG. 14 (“RV05”). The RV01 liposomes had 40% DlinDMA, 10% DSPC, 48% cholesterol and 2% PEG-DMG, but with differing amounts of RNA. The RV05 liposomes had either 40% RV05, 10% DSPC, 48% cholesterol and 2% PEG-DMG or 60% RV05, 38% cholesterol and 2% PEG-DMG. The RV13 liposomes had 40% DOTAP, 10% DOPE, 48% cholesterol and 2% PEG-DMG. In all cases the PEG was PEG-2000 (i.e. 2 kDa PEG). For comparison, naked plasmid DNA (20 μg) expressing the same RSV-F antigen was delivered either using electroporation or with RV01(10) liposomes (0.1 μg DNA). Four mice were used as a naļve control group.
  • [0325]
    Liposomes were prepared by method (A) or method (B). For some liposomes made by method (A) a double or half amount of RNA was used. Z average particle diameter and polydispersity index were:
  • [0000]
    RV Zav (nm) pdI Preparation
    RV01 (10) 158.6 0.088 (A)
    RV01 (08) 156.8 0.144 (A)
    RV01 (05) 136.5 0.136 (B)
    RV01 (09) 153.2 0.067 (A)
    RV01 (10) 134.7 0.147 (A)
    RV05 (01) 148 0.127 (A)
    RV05 (02) 177.2 0.136 (A)
    RV13 (02) 128.3 0.179 (A)
  • [0326]
    Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 14, 36 and 49. Spleens were harvested from mice at day 49 for T cell analysis.
  • [0327]
    F-specific serum IgG titers (GMT) were as follows:
  • [0000]
    RV Day 14 Day 36
    Naked DNA plasmid 439 6712
    Naked A317 RNA 78 2291
    RV01 (10) 3020 26170
    RV01 (08) 2326 9720
    RV01 (05) 5352 54907
    RV01 (09) 4428 51316
    RV05 (01) 1356 5346
    RV05 (02) 961 6915
    RV01 (10) DNA 5 13
    RV13 (02) 644 3616
  • [0328]
    The proportion of T cells which are cytokine-positive and specific for RSV F51-66 peptide are as follows, showing only figures which are statistically significantly above zero:
  • [0000]
    CD4+ CD8− CD4− CD8+
    RV IFNγ IL2 IL5 TNFα IFNγ IL2 IL5 TNFα
    Naked DNA plasmid 0.04 0.07 0.10 0.57 0.29 0.66
    Naked A317 RNA 0.04 0.05 0.08 0.57 0.23 0.67
    RV01 (10) 0.07 0.10 0.13 1.30 0.59 1.32
    RV01 (08) 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.46 0.30 0.51
    RV01 (05) 0.08 0.12 0.15 1.90 0.68 1.94
    RV01 (09) 0.06 0.08 0.09 1.62 0.67 1.71
    RV01 (10) DNA 0.03 0.08
    RV13 (02) 0.03 0.04 0.06 1.15 0.41 1.18
  • [0329]
    Thus the liposome formulations significantly enhanced immunogenicity relative to the naked RNA controls, as determined by increased F-specific IgG titers and T cell frequencies. Plasmid DNA formulated with liposomes, or delivered naked using electroporation, was significantly less immunogenic than liposome-formulated self-replicating RNA.
  • [0330]
    Further RV01 liposomes were prepared by method (H), again using 2 kDa PEG conjugated to DMG, and either encapsulating 150 μg RNA (vA375 replicon encoding surface fusion glycoprotein of RSV) or encapsulating only buffer. Thus these liposomes had 40% DlinDMA, 10% DSPC, 48% Chol, and 2% PEG-DMG. Sizes and encapsulation were as follows:
  • [0000]
    RV Zav (nm) pdI RNA Encapsulatn
    RV01 (36) 152.1 0.053 + 92.5%
    RV01 (36) 144 0.13
  • [0331]
    The liposomes were administered to BALB/c mice (10 per group) by bilateral intramuscular injection (50 μl per leg) on days 0 & 21. Doses were 0.01, 0.03, 0.1, 0.3 or 1 μg. F-specific serum IgG and PRNT60 titers (GMT) were as follows, 2 weeks after the first or second injection:
  • [0000]
    RV RNA (μg) 2wp1 2wp2 PRNT60 (2wp2)
    Buffer control 0 10
    RV01 (36) 0 10
    RV01 (36) 0.01 3399 50691 37
    RV01 (36) 0.03 3446 53463 83
    RV01 (36) 0.1 8262 76808 238
    RV01 (36) 0.3 5913 82599 512
    RV01 (36) 1 8213 85138 441
  • [0332]
    Cytomegalovirus Immunogenicity
  • [0333]
    RV01 liposomes with DLinDMA as the cationic lipid and 2 kDa PEG were used to deliver RNA replicons encoding CMV glycoproteins. The “vA160” replicon encodes full-length glycoproteins H and L (gH/gL), whereas the “vA322” replicon encodes a soluble form (gHsol/gL). The two proteins are under the control of separate subgenomic promoters in a single replicon; co-administration of two separate vectors, one encoding gH and one encoding gL, did not give good results.
  • [0334]
    BALB/c mice, 10 per group, were given bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (50 μL per leg) on days 0, 21 and 42 with VRPs expressing gH/gL (1×106 IU), VRPs expressing gHsol/gL (1×106 IU) and PBS as the controls. Two test groups received 1 μg of the vA160 or vA322 replicon formulated in liposomes (40% DlinDMA, 10% DSPC, 48% Chol, 2% PEG-DMG; made using method (D) but with 150 μg RNA batch size).
  • [0335]
    The vA160 liposomes had a Zav diameter of 168.8 nm, a pdI of 0.144, and 87.4% encapsulation. The vA322 liposomes had a Zav diameter of 162 nm, a pdI of 0.131, and 90% encapsulation.
  • [0336]
    The replicons were able to express two proteins from a single vector.
  • [0337]
    Sera were collected for immunological analysis on day 63 (3wp3). CMV neutralization titers (the reciprocal of the serum dilution producing a 50% reduction in number of positive virus foci per well, relative to controls) were as follows:
  • [0000]
    gH/gL VRP gHsol/gL VRP gH/gL liposome gHsol/gL liposome
    4576 2393 4240 10062
  • [0338]
    RNA expressing either a full-length or a soluble form of the CMV gH/gL complex thus elicited high titers of neutralizing antibodies, as assayed on epithelial cells. The average titers elicited by the liposome-encapsulated RNAs were at least as high as for the corresponding VRPs.
  • [0339]
    Repeat experiments confirmed that the replicon was able to express two proteins from a single vector. The RNA replicon gave a 3wp3 titer of 11457, compared to 5516 with VRPs.
  • [0340]
    Expression Kinetics
  • [0341]
    A self-replicating RNA replicon (“vA311”) that expresses a luciferase reporter gene (luc) was used for studying the kinetics of protein expression after injection. BALB/c mice, 5 animals per group, received bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (50 μL per leg) on day 0 with:
      • Group 1 DNA expressing luciferase, delivered using electroporation (10 μg) Group 2 self-replicating RNA (1 μg) formulated in liposomes (40% DlinDMA, 10% DSPC, 48% cholesterol, 2% PEG-2000 conjugated to DMG
      • Group 3 self-replicating RNA (1 μg) formulated with a cationic nanoemulsion (CNE17) Group 4 self-replicating RNA (1μg) formulated with a different cationic nanoemulsion
      • Group 5 VRP (1x106 IU) expressing luciferase
  • [0345]
    Prior to vaccination mice were depilated. Mice were anesthetized (2% isoflurane in oxygen), hair was first removed with an electric razor and then chemical Nair. Bioluminescence data was then acquired using a Xenogen IVIS 200 imaging system (Caliper Life Sciences) on days 3, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 63 and 70. Five minutes prior to imaging mice were injected intraperitbneally with 8 mg/kg of luciferin solution. Animals were then anesthetized and transferred to the imaging system. Image acquisition times were kept constant as bioluminescence signal was measured with a cooled CCD camera.
  • [0346]
    In visual terms, luciferase-expressing cells were seen to remain primarily at the site of RNA injection, and animals imaged after removal of quads showed no signal.
  • [0347]
    In quantitative terms, luciferase expression was measured as average radiance over a period of 70 days (p/s/cm2/sr), and results were as follows for the 5 groups:
  • [0000]
    Days 1 2 3 4 5
    3 8.69E+07 3.33E+06 2.11E+06 9.71E+06 1.46E+07
    7 1.04E+08 8.14E+06 1.83E+07 5.94E+07 1.64E+07
    14 8.16E+07 2.91E+06 9.22E+06 3.48E+07 8.49E+05
    21 1.27E+07 3.13E+05 6.79E+04 5.07E+05 6.79E+05
    28 1.42E+07 6.37E+05 2.36E+04 4.06E+03 2.00E+03
    35 1.21E+07 6.12E+05 2.08E+03
    42 1.49E+07 8.70E+05
    49 1.17E+07 2.04E+05
    63 9.69E+06 1.72E+03
    70 9.29E+06
  • [0348]
    The self-replicating RNA formulated with cationic nanoemulsions showed measurable bioluminescence at day 3, which peaked at day 7 and then reduced to background levels by days 28 , to 35. When formulated in liposomes the RNA showed measurable bioluminescence at day 3, which peaked at day 7 and reduced to background levels by day 63. RNA delivered using VRPs showed enhanced bioluminescence at day 21 when compared to the formulated RNA, but expression had reduced to background levels by day 28. Electroporated DNA showed the highest level of bioluminescence at all time points measured and levels of bioluminescence did not reduce to background levels within the 70 days of the experiment.
  • [0349]
    Delivery Volume
  • [0350]
    Hydrodynamic delivery employs the force generated by the rapid injection of a large volume of solution to overcome the physical barriers of cell membranes which prevent large and membrane-impermeable compounds from entering cells. This phenomenon has previously been shown to be useful for the intracellular delivery of DNA vaccines.
  • [0351]
    A typical mouse delivery volume for intramuscular injection is 50 μl into the hind leg, which is a relatively high volume for a mouse leg muscle. In contrast, a human intramuscular dose of ˜0.5 ml is relatively small. If immunogenicity in mice would be volume-dependent then the replicon vaccines' efficacy might be due, at least in part, on hydrodynamic forces, which would not be encouraging for use of the same vaccines in humans and larger animals.
  • [0352]
    The vA317 replicon was delivered to BALB/c mice, 10 per group, by bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (5 or 50 per leg) on day 0 and 21:
      • Group 1 received naked replicon, 0.2.tg in 50 μL per leg
      • Group 2 received naked replicon, 0.2 μg in 5 μL. per leg
      • Group 3 received emulsion-formulated replicon (0.2 μg, 50 μL per leg)
      • Group 4 received emulsion-formulated replicon (0.2 μg, 5 μL per leg)
      • Group 5 received liposome-formulated replicon (0.2 μg, 50 μL per leg)
      • Group 6 received liposome-formulated replicon (0.2 μg, 5 μL per leg)
  • [0359]
    The liposomes for groups 5 & 6 were 40% DlinDMA, 10% DSPC, 48% cholesterol, and 2% PEG-2000 conjugated to DMG.
  • [0360]
    Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 14 and 35. F-specific serum IgG GMTs were:
  • [0000]
    Day 1 2 3 4 5 6
    14 42 21 783 760 2669 2610
    35 241 154 2316 2951 17655 18516
  • [0361]
    Thus immunogenicity of the formulated replicon did not vary according to the delivered volume, thus indicating that these RNA vaccines do not rely on hydrodynamic delivery for their efficacy.
  • [0362]
    Cotton Rats
  • [0363]
    A study was performed in cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidis) instead of mice. At a 1 μg dose liposome encapsulation increased F-specific IgG titers by 8.3-fold compared to naked RNA and increased PRNT titers by 9.5-fold. The magnitude of the antibody response was equivalent to that induced by 5×106 IU VRP. Both naked and liposome-encapsulated RNA were able to protect the cotton rats from RSV challenge (1×105 plaque forming units), reducing lung viral load by at least 3.5 logs. Encapsulation increased the reduction by about 2-fold.
  • [0364]
    Further work in cotton rats used four different replicons: vA317 expresses full-length RSV-F; vA318 expresses truncated (transmembrane and cytoplasmic tail removed) RSV-F; vA142 expresses RSV-F with its fusion peptide deleted; vA140 expresses the truncated RSV-F also without its peptide. Cotton rats, 4 to 8 animals per group, were given intramuscular vaccinations (100 μL, in one leg) on days 0 and 21 with the four different replicons at two doses (1.0 and 0.1μg) formulated in liposomes made using 2 kDa PEG-conjugated DMG by method (D), but with a 150 μg RNA batch size. Control groups received a RSV-F subunit protein vaccine (5 μg) adjuvanted with alum (8 animals/group), VRPs expressing full-length RSV-F (1×106 IU, 8 animals/group), or naive control (4 animals/group). Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 0, 21 and 34.
  • [0365]
    F-specific serum IgG titers and RSV serum neutralizing antibody titers on day 21 and 34 were:
  • [0000]
    IgG, IgG, NT, NT,
    Group day 21 day 34 day 21 day 34
    1 μg vA317 915 2249 115 459
    0.1 μg vA317 343 734 87 95
    1 μg vA318 335 1861 50 277
    0.1 μg vA318 129 926 66 239
    1 μg vA142 778 4819 92 211
    0.1 μg vA142 554 2549 78 141
    1 μg vA140 182 919 96 194
    0.1 μg vA140 61 332 29 72
    5 μg F trimer subunit/alum 13765 86506 930 4744
    1 × 106 IU VRP-F full 1877 19179 104 4528
    Naļve 5 5 10 15
  • [0366]
    All four replicons evaluated in this study (vA317, vA318, vA142, vA140) were immunogenic in cotton rats when delivered by liposome, although serum neutralization titers were at least ten-fold lower than those induced by adjuvanted protein vaccines or by VRPs. The liposome/RNA vaccines elicited serum F-specific IgG and RSV neutralizing antibodies after the first vaccination, and a second vaccination boosted the response effectively. F-specific IgG titers after the second vaccination with 1 μg replicon were 2- to 3-fold higher than after the second vaccination with 0.1 μg replicon. The four replicons elicited comparable antibody titers, suggesting that full length and truncated RSV-F, each with or without the fusion peptide, are similarly immunogenic in cotton rats.
  • [0367]
    Further work in cotton rats again used the vA317, vA318 and vA142 replicons. Cotton rats, 2-8 animals per group, were given intramuscular vaccinations (100 μL in one leg) on days 0 and 21 with the replicons (0.1 or 1 μg) encapsulated in RV01 liposomes (with PEG-2000) made by method (D) but with a 150 μg RNA batch size. Control groups received the RSV-F subunit protein vaccine (5 μg) adjuvanted with alum or VRPs expressing full-length RSV-F (1×106 IU, 8 animals/group). All these animals received a third vaccination (day 56) with RSV-F subunit protein vaccine (5 μg) adjuvanted with alum. In addition there was a naļve control (4 animals/group). In addition, an extra group was given bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (50 μL per leg) on days 0 and 56 with 1 μg vA317 RNA in liposomes but did not receive a third vaccination with the subunit protein vaccine.
  • [0368]
    Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 0, 21, 35, 56, 70, plus days 14, 28 & 42 for the extra group. F-specific serum IgG titers (GMT) were as follows:
  • [0000]
    Day 21 Day 35 Day 56 Day 70
    1 μg vA318 260 1027 332 14263
    0.1 μg vA318 95 274 144 2017
    1 μg vA142 483 1847 1124 11168
    0.1 μg vA142 314 871 418 11023
    1 μg vA317 841 4032 1452 13852
    1 × 106 VRP (F-full) 2075 3938 1596 14574
    5 μg F trimer subunit/alum 12685 54526 25846 48864
    Naļve 5 5 5 5
  • [0369]
    Serum neutralisation titers were as follows (60% RSV neutralization titers for 2 pools of 3-4 animals per group, GMT of these 2 pools per group):
  • [0000]
    Day 21 Day 35 Day 56 Day 70
    1 μg vA318 58 134 111 6344
    0.1 μg vA318 41 102 63 6647
    1 μg vA142 77 340 202 5427
    0.1 μg vA142 35 65 56 2223
    1 μg vA317 19 290 200 4189
    1 × 106 VRP (F-full) 104 1539 558 2876
    5 μg F trimer subunit/alum 448 4457 1630 3631
    Naļve 10 10 10
  • [0370]
    Serum titers and neutralising titers for the extra group were as follows:
  • [0000]
    Day 14 21 28 35 42 56 70
    IgG 397 561 535 501 405 295 3589
    NT 52 82 90 106 80 101 1348
  • [0371]
    Thus the replicons are confirmed as immunogenic in cotton rats, eliciting serum F-specific IgG and RSV neutralizing antibodies after the first vaccination. A second vaccination boosted the responses effectively. F-specific IgG titers after the second vaccination with 1.0 μg replicon were 1.5 to 4-fold higher than after the second vaccination with 0.1 μg replicon.
  • [0372]
    The third vaccination (protein at day 56) did not boost titers in cotton rats previously vaccinated with F trimer subunit+alum, but it did provide a large boost to titers in cotton rats previously vaccinated with replicon. In most cases the RSV serum neutralization titers after two replicon vaccinations followed by protein boost were equal to or greater than titers induced by two or three sequential protein vaccinations.
  • [0373]
    This study also evaluated the kinetics of the antibody response to 1.0 μg vA317. F-specific serum IgG and RSV neutralization titers induced by a single vaccination reached their peak around day 21 and were maintained through at least day 56 (50-70% drop in F-specific IgG titer, little change in RSV neutralization titer). A homologous second vaccination was given to these animals on day 56, and boosted antibody titers to a level at least equal to that achieved when the second vaccination was administered on day 21.
  • [0374]
    Further experiments involved a viral challenge. The vA368 replicon encodes the full-length wild type surface fusion glycoprotein of RSV with the fusion peptide deleted, with expression driven by the EV71 IRES. Cotton rats, 7 per group, were given intramuscular vaccinations (100 μL per leg) on days 0 and 21 with vA368 in liposomes prepared by method (H), 175 μg RNA batch size, or with VRPs having the same replicon. The liposomes included 2 kDa PEG, conjugated to DMG. A control group received 5 μg alum-adjuvanted protein, and a naļve control group was also included.
  • [0375]
    All groups received an intranasal challenge (i.n.) with 1×106 PFU RSV four weeks after the final immunization. Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 0, 21, 35. Viral lung titers were measured 5 days post challenge. Results were as follows:
  • [0000]
    Liposome VRP Protein Naļve
    F-specific Serum IgG titers (GMT)
    Day 21 370 1017 28988 5
    Day 35 2636 2002 113843 5
    Neutralising titers (GMT)
    Day 21 47 65 336 10
    Day 35 308 271 5188 10
    Lung viral load (pfu per gram of lung)
    Day 54 422 225 124 694110
  • [0376]
    Thus the RNA vaccine reduced the lung viral load by over three logs, from approximately 106 PFU/g in unvaccinated control cotton rats to less than 103 PFU/g in vaccinated cotton rats.
  • [0377]
    Large Mammal Study
  • [0378]
    A large-animal study was performed in cattle. Calves (4-6 weeks old, ˜60-80 kg, 5 per group) were immunised with 66 μg of replicon vA317 encoding full-length RSV F protein at days 0, 21, 86 and 146. The replicons were formulated inside liposomes made by method (E) but with a 1.5 mg RNA batch size; they had 40% DlinDMA, 10% DSPC, 48% cholesterol, and 2% PEG-2000 conjugated to DMG. PBS alone was used as a negative control, and a licensed vaccine was used as a positive control (“Triangle 4” from Fort Dodge, containing killed virus). All calves received 15 μg F protein adjuvanted with the MF59 emulsion on day 146.
  • [0379]
    The RNA vaccines encoded human RSV F whereas the “Triangle 4” vaccine contains bovine RSV F, but the RSV F protein is highly conserved between BRSV and HRSV.
  • [0380]
    Calves received 2 ml of each experimental vaccine, administered intramuscularly as 2×1 ml on each side of the neck. In contrast, the “Triangle 4” vaccine was given as a single 2 ml dose in the neck.
  • [0381]
    Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 0, 14, 21, 35, 42, 56, 63, 86, 100, 107, 114, 121, 128, 135, 146, 160, 167, 174, 181, 188, 195, and 202. If an individual animal had a titer below the limit of detection it was assigned a titer of 5.
  • [0382]
    FIG. 15 shows F-specific IgG titers over 210 days. Over the first 63 days the RNA replicon was immunogenic in the cows via liposomes, although it gave lower titers than the licensed vaccine. All vaccinated cows showed F-specific antibodies after the second dose, and titers were very stable from the period of 2 to 6 weeks after the second dose (and were particularly stable for the RNA vaccines). Titres up to day 202 were as follows:
  • [0000]
    3wp1 2wp2 5wp2 ~9wp2 2wp3 5wp3 8wp3 2wp4 5wp4 8wp4
    D0 D21 D35 D56 D86 D100 D121 D146 D160 D181 D202
    PBS 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 46 98 150
    Liposome 5 5 12 11 20 768 428 74 20774 7022 2353
    Triangle 4 5 5 1784 721 514 3406 2786 336 13376 4775 2133
  • [0383]
    RSV serum neutralizing antibody titers were as follows:
  • [0000]
    2wp2 5wp2 2wp3 3wp3 4wp3 8wp3 2wp4 3wp4 4wp4
    D0 D35 D56 D100 D107 D114 D146 D160 D167 D174
    PBS 12 10 10 14 18 20 14 10 10 10
    Liposome 13 10 10 20 13 17 13 47 26 21
    Triangle 4 12 15 13 39 38 41 13 24 26 15
  • [0384]
    The material used for the second liposome dose was not freshly prepared, and the same lot of RNA showed a decrease in potency in a mouse immunogenicity study. Therefore it is possible that the vaccine would have been more immunogenic if fresh material had been used for all vaccinations.
  • [0385]
    When assayed with complement, neutralizing antibodies were detected in all vaccinated cows. In this assay, all vaccinated calves had good neutralizing antibody titers after the second RNA vaccination Furthermore, the RNA vaccine elicited F-specific serum IgG titers that were detected in a few calves after the second vaccination and in all calves after the third.
  • [0386]
    MF59-adjuvanted RSV-F was able to boost the IgG response in all previously vaccinated calves, and to boost complement-independent neutralization titers of calves previously vaccinated with RNA.
  • [0387]
    Proof of concept for RNA vaccines in large animals is particularly important in light of the loss in potency observed previously with DNA-based vaccines when moving from small animal models to larger animals and humans. A typical dose for a cow DNA vaccine would be 0.5-1 mg [43, 44] and so it is very encouraging that immune responses were induced with only 66ps of RNA.
  • [0388]
    Effect of PEG Length
  • [0389]
    As mentioned above, liposomes were prepared using DMG to which five different PEGs were conjugated. The average molecular weight of the PEG was 500 Da, 750 Da, 1 kDa, 2 kDa or 3 kDa.
  • [0390]
    Liposomes formed using the shortest PEGs (500 Da and 750 Da) were unstable or aggregated during TFF purification. PEG-750 gave liposomes with a significantly higher Zaverage diameter (669 nm) and polydispersity index (0.21), with 77% encapsulation. The PEG-500 liposomes visibly aggregated in solution during the TFF process and the experiment was terminated. Thus these short PEG liposomes were unstable, but the longer PEGs formed stable liposomes.
  • [0391]
    The different PEG lengths (FIG. 16) had a small effect on liposome diameter and polydispersity index. The Z-average diameter was 197 nm (0.119 pdI) for the 1 kDa PEG, 142 nm (0.137 pdI) for the 2 kDa PEG, and 147 nm (0.075 pdI) for the 3 kDa PEG. RNA encapsulation increased gradually as the PEG length increased, from 81.7% to 85.9% to 91.5% (although this relationship was not always seen in subsequent experiments).
  • [0392]
    The liposomes were administered to mice by intramuscular injection on day 0. Serum SEAP levels were measured at days 1, 3 and 6 by chemiluminescent assay. As shown in FIG. 3, the three PEG lengths were all effective, but varying the length of the PEG had some effect on serum SEAP levels, with PEG 2000 giving the highest expression.
  • [0393]
    Different lipids and PEG Lengths
  • [0394]
    The vA317 replicon was administered in liposomes having a variety of different lipids with different PEG lengths. The liposomes all had 40% DlinDMA, 10% DSPC and 48% cholesterol, but the remaining 2% was varied, with different PEGylated lipids (e.g. FIGS. 17A to 17E) and different PEG lengths.
  • [0395]
    Physical characteristics of the liposomes, made by method (H), were:
  • [0000]
    PEG
    Name PEGylated lipid length Zav (nm) pdI % encapsulatn
    A DMG 2000 136.3 0.087 85.35
    B DMG 3000 120.9 0.087 72.06
    C DMG 1000 175.9 0.111 92.52
    D FIG. 17A 2000 157.9 0.094 97.44
    E FIG. 17D 2000 122.2 0.122 77.84
    F FIG. 17E 2000 129.8 0.125 82.57
    G Cholesterol 2000 122.9 0.087 87.1
    H FIG. 17C 2000 138 0.137 78.48
    I FIG. 17B 2000 113.4 0.091 89.12
  • [0396]
    BALB/c mice, 8 per group, were given bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (50 μL per leg) on days 0 and 21 with the replicon,. either naked (1 μg) or encapsulated in these liposomes (0.1 μg). Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 14, and 35.
  • [0397]
    F-specific serum IgG titers (GMT) were as follows, 2 weeks after the two injections (2wp1):
  • [0000]
    RV 2wp1 2wp2
    Naked RNA 216 1356
    A 3271 15659
    B 3860 22378
    C 1691 7412
    D 1025 1767
    E 1618 9536
    F 2684 11221
    G 3514 10566
    H 4142 22810
    I 952 10410
  • [0398]
    The results show a trend, indicating that higher molecular weight PEG head groups are more immunogenic. As the length of DMG-conjugated PEG increases from 1000 Da to 3000 Da the 2wp2 F-specific IgG titers increase from 7412 to 15659 to 22378.
  • [0399]
    Changing the linker region from ester to ether did not impact the titers substantially. Also, at the same molecular weight of the head group (2000) there was a trend that increasing the length of the lipid tails lowers the titers (H with C14 dialkyl vs. I with C18 dialkyl). Replacing a PEG di-alkyl lipid tail with cholesterol had little impact on immunogenicity (A with DMG vs. G with cholesterol).
  • [0400]
    Similar experiments were performed with different lipids in which the 2 kDa of PEG is split into 2x 1 kDa groups (FIG. 18, with total MW in the boxed region being 2000). The vA317 replicon was again used, with BALB/c mice, 8 per group, given bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (50 μL per leg) on days 0 & 21 with 1 μg naked RNA or 0.1 μg liposome-encapsulated RNA. The liposomes all had 40% cationic lipid (DIinDMA), 10% DSPC and 48% cholesterol, but the remaining 2% was varied, with different PEGylated lipids (but all with 2 kDa PEG). They were made by method (H).
  • [0401]
    Physical characteristics of the liposomes were:
  • [0000]
    Name PEGylated lipid Zav (nm) pdI % encapsuln
    A DMG 121 0.101 84.84
    B Split; R = C14 saturated 141.3 0.049 95.41
    C Split; R = C16 saturated 114.6 0.101 96.79
    D Split; R = C18 saturated 116.5 0.088 98.63
    E Split; R = C18, 1 unsaturated 129.4 0.149 93.37
  • [0402]
    Further liposomes were made with RV05. The liposomes had 40% cationic lipid (RV05) and 2% PEGylated DMG (2 kDa PEG), while the remaining components varied (but cholesterol was always included). The liposomes were made by method (H) but with pH 5. Physical characteristics were:
  • [0000]
    Name Other components Zav (nm) pdI % encapsuln
    F 10% DSPC, 48% chol 102.2 0.12 76.81
    G 10% DSPC, 46% chol, 2% αGC 103.7 0.107 72.58
    H 10% DPyPE, 48% chol 99.6 0.115 78.34
    I 10% 18:3 PC, 48% chol 130 0.14 87.92
    J 10% 18:2 PC, 48% chol 101.1 0.133 76.64
    K 30% 18:2 PC, 28% chol 134.3 0.158 57.76
    αGC = α-galactosylceramide
  • [0403]
    BALB/c mice, 8 per group, were given bilateral intramuscular vaccinations (50 μL per leg) on days 0 and 21 with the replicon, either naked (1 μg) or encapsulated (0.1μg). Serum was collected for antibody analysis on days 14, and 35. F-specific serum IgG titers (GMT) were as follows, 2 weeks after the two injections (2wp1):
  • [0000]
    RV 2wp1 2wp2
    Naked RNA 321 915
    A 2761 17040
    B 866 3657
    C 1734 5209
    D 426 2079
    E 2696 15794
    F 551 955
    G 342 2531
    H 1127 3881
    I 364 1741
    J 567 5679
    K 1251 5303
  • [0404]
    Splitting the PEG head groups thus lowered in vivo titers. Including a double bond (1 degree of instauration per alkyl tail) in the PEG lipid tails increased IgG titers, 6 fold at day 14 and 7 fold at day 35. For a cationic lipid with an asymmetrical lipid tails (alkyl+cholesterol), changing the neutral lipid from DSPC (saturated C18 lipid tail) to 18:2 or 18:3 PC (with 2 and 3 unsaturated double bonds per tail) increased total IgG titers. Comparable results were observed with replacement of DSPC with DPyPE.
  • [0405]
    It will be understood that the invention has been described by way of example only and modifications may be made whilst remaining within the scope and spirit of the invention.
  • [0000]
    TABLE 1
    useful phospholipids
    DDPC 1,2-Didecanoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DEPA 1,2-Dierucoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphate
    DEPC 1,2-Erucoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DEPE 1,2-Dierucoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine
    DEPG 1,2-Dierucoyl-sn-Glycero-3[Phosphatidyl-rac-(1-
    glycerol . . .)
    DLOPC 1,2-Linoleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DLPA 1,2-Dilauroyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphate
    DLPC 1,2-Dilauroyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DLPE 1,2-Dilauroyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine
    DLPG 1,2-Dilauroyl-sn-Glycero-3[Phosphatidyl-rac-(1-
    glycerol . . .)
    DLPS 1,2-Dilauroyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylserine
    DMG 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine
    DMPA 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphate
    DMPC 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DMPE 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine
    DMPG 1,2-Myristoyl-sn-Glycero-3[Phosphatidyl-rac-(1-
    glycerol . . .)
    DMPS 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylserine
    DOPA 1,2-Dioleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphate
    DOPC 1,2-Dioleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DOPE 1,2-Dioleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine
    DOPG 1,2-Dioleoyl-sn-Glycero-3[Phosphatidyl-rac-(1-
    glycerol . . .)
    DOPS 1,2-Dioleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylserine
    DPPA 1,2-Dipalmitoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphate
    DPPC 1,2-Dipalmitoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DPPE 1,2-Dipalmitoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine
    DPPG 1,2-Dipalmitoyl-sn-Glycero-3[Phosphatidyl-rac-(1-
    glycerol . . .)
    DPPS 1,2-Dipalmitoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylserine
    DPyPE 1,2-diphytanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine
    DSPA 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphate
    DSPC 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    DSPE 1,2-Diostearpyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylethanolamine
    DSPG 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-Glycero-3[Phosphatidyl-rac-(1-
    glycerol . . .)
    DSPS 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylserine
    EPC Egg-PC
    HEPC Hydrogenated Egg PC
    HSPC High purity Hydrogenated Soy PC
    HSPC Hydrogenated Soy PC
    LYSOPC 1-Myristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    MYRISTIC
    LYSOPC 1-Palmitoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    PALMITIC
    LYSOPC 1-Stearoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    STEARIC
    Milk 1-Myristoyl,2-palmitoyl-sn-Glycero 3-phosphatidylcholine
    Sphingo-
    myelin
    MPPC
    MSPC 1-Myristoyl,2-stearoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    PMPC 1-Palmitoyl,2-myristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    POPC 1-Palmitoyl,2-oleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    POPE 1-Palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-
    phosphatidylethanolamine
    POPG 1,2-Dioleoyl-sn-Glycero-3[Phosphatidyl-rac-(1-
    glycerol) . . .]
    PSPC 1-Palmitoyl,2-stearoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    SMPC 1-Stearoyl,2-myristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    SOPC 1-Stearoyl,2-oleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
    SPPC 1-Stearoyl,2-palmitoyl-sn-Glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine
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