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Title:  Use of prosaposin and peptides obtained therefrom for treatment of neural degeneration

United States Patent:  6,559,124

Issued:  May 6, 2003

Inventors:  O'Brien; John S. (San Diego, CA); Kishimoto; Yasuo (San Diego, CA)

Assignee:  Myelos Corporation (Iselin, NJ)

Appl. No.:  076258

Filed:  May 12, 1998


Prosaposin, saposin C and various peptide fragments of saposin C stimulate neurite outgrowth in vitro. In addition, prosaposin and saposin C promote increased myelination ex vivo. Prosaposin is present in large neurons of the brain, including both upper and lower motor neurons.


This invention discloses our discovery that prosaposin, saposin C or a peptide comprising amino acids 8-29 of saposin C can be used to stimulate neurite outgrowth and to promote increased myelination.

Prosaposin or its derivatives possess significant therapeutic applications in promoting functional recovery after toxic, traumatic, ischemic, degenerative and inherited lesions to the peripheral and central nervous system. In addition, prosaposin or its derivatives may be used to counteract the effects of demyelinating diseases.

Prosaposin and its derivatives are known to be present in many types of neurons, are water soluble (in contrast to glycosphingolipids) and are less immunogenic than ganglioside micelles since for therapy in humans the human sequence will be used which will not elicit an immune response.

Human prosaposin has the amino acid sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO:2. Saposin C has the amino acid sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO:3. The human cDNA sequence for prosaposin is set forth in SEQ ID NO:4. An active 18-mer fragment derived from the active 22-mer fragment (SEQ ID NO: 1) is set forth as SEQ ID NO: 5.

As will be discussed in more specific detail in the Examples, prosaposin, saposin C and amino acids of saposin C that include at least amino acids 8-29 of SEQ ID NO: 3 A are active as neurotrophic factors. In addition, a peptide including at least amino acids 12-29 (with a tyrosine substituted for valine at position 12A SEQ ID NO: 5) is also an active neurotrophic factor. Similar active peptides, also within the scope of this invention, can be prepared and screened as described herein (See Example 2). These proteins and peptides stimulate the outgrowth of neurites, promote myelination and prevent programmed cell death in neuronal tissues.

One aspect of the present invention is a method for facilitating outgrowth of neurites in differentiated or undifferentiated neural cells. This method requires administration of an effective, neurite-outgrowth facilitating amount of prosaposin, saposin C, or the 18 or 22 amino acid fragment thereof to the cells in question. A typical minimum amount of prosaposin for the neurotrophic factor activity in cell growth medium is usually at least about 1.4x10-11 M, or about 10 ng/ml. This amount or more of saposin C or its active 18 or 22 amino acid fragments may also be used. Usually concentrations in the range of 0.1 .mu.g/ml to about 10 .mu.g/ml of any of these materials will be used. Effective amounts for any particular tissue can be determined in accordance with Example 1.

The neural cells can be treated in vitro or ex vivo by directly administering the neurotrophic factor of the present invention to the cells. This can be done, for example, by culturing the cells in growth medium suitable for the particular cell type followed by addition of the neurotrophic factor to the medium.

When the cells to be treated are in vivo, typically in a vertebrate, preferably a mammal or a bird, the composition can be administered to the cells to be treated by one of several techniques. Most preferably, the composition can be injected directly into the blood in sufficient quantity to give the desired concentration of neurotrophic factor since an iodinated 18-mer peptide consisting of amino acids 12-29 of the 22-mer with a substitution of tyrosine for valine at amino acid 12 (M.W=2000) crosses the blood brain barrier and enters the central nervous system as described in Example 7 (see Banks et al., (1992) Peptides, 13: 1289-1294). The uptake by the brain was approximately 0.03% which is in the midrange of values for peptides of that approximate size which will cross the blood brain barrier. This is the only neurotrophic factor so far described which will cross the blood brain barrier when administered intravenously.

Direct intracranial injection or injection into the cerebrospinal fluid may also be used in sufficient quantities to give the desired local concentration of neurotrophin. In both cases, a pharmaceutically acceptable injectable carrier of well known type can be used. Such carriers include, for example, phosphate buffered saline (PBS). Alternatively, the composition can be administered to peripheral neural tissue by direct local injection or by systemic administration. Various conventional modes of administration are contemplated, including intravenous, intramuscular, intradermal, subcutaneous, intracranial, epidural, topical and oral administration.

The composition can be packaged and administered in unit dosage form such as an injectable composition or local preparation in a dosage amount equivalent to the daily dosage administered to a patient or as a controlled release composition. A septum sealed vial containing a daily dose of the active ingredient in either PBS or in lyophilized form is an example of a unit dosage.

Since the molecular weight of the active 22-mer is approximately 2600, and an iodinated 18-mer contained within this sequence will cross the blood brain barrier, then the 22-mer will also most likely cross and enter the central nervous system (Banks et al., (1992) Peptides, 13: 1289-1294). Appropriate daily systemic dosages based on the body weight of the vertebrate are in the range of from about 10 to about 100 .mu.g/kg, although dosages from about 0.1 to about 1000 .mu.g/kg are also contemplated. Daily dosages of locally administered material will be about an order of magnitude less. Oral administration may be possible if the peptide is stable to gastrointestinal degradation and readily absorbed.

In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the neurotrophic factor is administered locally to the neural cells in vivo by implantation of the material. For example, polylactic acid, polygalactic acid, regenerated collagen, multilamellar liposomes and many other conventional depot formulations comprise bioerodible or biodegradable materials that can be formulated with biologically active compositions. These materials, when implanted, gradually break down and release the active material to the surrounding tissue. The use of bioerodible, biodegradable and other depot formulations is expressly contemplated in the present invention. Infusion pumps, matrix entrapment systems, and combination with transdermal delivery devices are also contemplated.

The neurotrophic factors of the present invention may also advantageously be enclosed in micelles or liposomes. Liposome encapsulation technology is well known. Liposomes may be targeted to specific tissue, such as neural tissue, through the use of receptors, ligands or antibodies capable of binding the targeted tissue. The preparation of these formulations is well known in the art (i.e., Radin and Metz, (1983) Methods Enzymol., 98: 613-618).

There are currently no available pharmaceuticals able to promote full functional regeneration and restoration of structural integrity of neural systems. This is particularly true of the central nervous system. Regeneration of peripheral nerves through use of neurotrophic factors is a more immediately demonstrable goal. Such treatment is within the scope of this invention. Moreover, neurotrophic factors can be therapeutically useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases associated with the degeneration of neural populations or specific areas of the brain. The principal cause of Parkinson's disease is the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra. Since antibodies against prosaposin immunohistochemically stain the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra in human brain sections, prosaposin and its active fragments may be therapeutically useful in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

It has long been believed that in order to reach neuronal populations in the brain, neurotrophic factors would have to be administered intracerebrally, since these proteins do not cross the blood-brain barrier. However, as previously mentioned, the active iodinated 18-mer will cross and the active 22-mer will most likely cross this barrier and would thus be administered intravenously. Other neuronal populations, such as motor neurons, would also be treated by intravenous injection, although direct injection into the cerebrospinal fluid is also envisioned as an alternate route.

Cells may be treated to facilitate myelin formation or to prevent demyelination in the manner described above, both in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo. There are several diseases that result in demyelination of nerve fibers including multiple sclerosis, acute disseminated leukoencephalitis, progressive multifocal leukoencephalitis, metachromatic leukodystrophy and adrenal leukodystrophy. These diseases can be treated, and the progression of the demyelination can be slowed or halted, by administration of the neurotrophic factors of the present invention to the cells affected by the disease.

The compositions of the present invention can be used in vitro as research tools for studying the effects of neurotrophic factors and myelin facilitating materials. However, more practically, they have an immediate use as laboratory reagents and components of cell growth media in order to better enable growth of neural cells in vitro.

The prosaposin used in the present invention may be obtained from various sources, and may be, for example, naturally occurring protein isolated from human milk or seminal plasma or recombinant human prosaposin purified from spent media of Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) cells infected with a baculovirus expression vector containing full-length cDNA for human prosaposin as described (Dewji et al., (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 84: 8652-8656). O'Brien et al., (1988) Science, 241: 1098-1101); Hiraiwa et al., (1993) Arch. Biochem. Biophys., 304, 110-116). Saposin C is isolated in pure form from spleens of patients with Gaucher disease, a lysosomal storage disorder (Morimoto et al., (1990) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 87: 3493-3497). Saposin C (80 amino acids) can also be chemically synthesized and refolded (Weiler et al., (1993) J. Mol. Neurosci., in press).

The peptides corresponding to sequences within saposin C may be synthesized using an automated solid-phase protocol on an Applied Biosystems Model 430 peptide synthesizer. After synthesis, peptides 1-40, 41-82, 1-27, 13-34 and 21-48 are desalted on a Sephadex G-75 column prior to use.

Claim 1 of 4 Claims

What is claimed is:

1. A method for increasing the survival of retina in a patient in need thereof comprising the step of administering to the patient an amount of prosaposin or a neurotrophic fragment comprising amino acids 8-29 of SEQ ID NO:3, wherein said amount is sufficient to increase the survival of the retina.

If you want to learn more about this patent, please go directly to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site to access the full patent.



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