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Title:  Orally-administered interferon-tau compositions and methods
United States Patent: 
May 8, 2007

Soos; Jeanne M. (Waltham, MA), Schiffenbauer; Joel (Gainesville, FL), Johnson; Howard Marcellus (Gainesville, FL)
University of Florida
Appl. No.: 
October 27, 2003


Web Seminars -- Pharm/Biotech/etc.


The present invention includes interferon-tau (IFN.tau.) pharmaceutical compositions useful for oral administration to treat cancers, autoimmune disorders (particularly multiple sclerosis), cell proliferative disorders and viral disease.


In one aspect, the present invention includes an improvement in a method of treating a disease condition in a mammal (e.g., mouse, dog or human) responsive to treatment by interferon-tau (IFN.tau.). The improvement comprises orally administering a therapeutically-effective amount of IFN.tau.. The orally-administered IFN.tau. is preferably ingested by the mammal. In a general embodiment, the IFN.tau. is orally-administered at a dosage of between about 1.times.10.sup.5 and about 1.times.10.sup.8 units per day, preferably at a dosage of between about 1.times.10.sup.6 and about 1.times.10.sup.7 units per day. The IFN.tau. may be, for example, ovine IFN.tau. (OvIFN.tau.), e.g., a polypeptide having the sequence represented as SEQ ID NO:2, or a human IFN.tau. (HuIFN.tau.), e.g., a polypeptide having the sequence represented as SEQ ID NO:4 or SEQ ID NO:6.

In one embodiment, the disease condition is an immune system disorder, such as an autoimmune disorder (e.g., multiple sclerosis (MS), type I (insulin dependent) diabetes mellitus, lupus erythematosus, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stomatitis, asthma, allergies or psoriasis). MS is particularly amenable to treatment using the methods of the present invention.

In another embodiment, the disease condition is a cell proliferation disorder, such as a cancer (e.g., hairy cell leukemia, Kaposi's Sarcoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia, multiple myeloma, superficial bladder cancer, skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma), renal cell carcinoma, ovarian cancer, low grade lymphocytic and cutaneous T cell lymphoma, and glioma).

In yet another embodiment, the disease condition is a viral disease (e.g., hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, non-A, non-B, non-C hepatitis, Epstein-Barr viral infection, HIV infection, herpes virus (EB, CML, herpes simplex), papilloma, poxvirus, picorna virus, adeno virus, rhino virus, HTLV I, HTLV II, and human rotavirus).

In another aspect, the invention includes a method of treating an autoimmune disorder in a subject (e.g., a human subject), by orally administering a therapeutically-effective amount of interferon-tau (IFN.tau.) to the subject. The orally-administered IFN.tau. is preferably ingested by the subject. Examples of autoimmune conditions amenable to treatment, dosages, and sources of IFN.tau. are as presented above.

The invention also includes a method of decreasing the severity or frequency of a relapse of multiple sclerosis (MS) in a human suffering from MS, by orally administering a therapeutically-effective amount of interferon-tau (IFN.tau.) to the human. Examples of dosages and sources of IFN.tau. are as presented above.

In another aspect, the invention includes a method of treating a cell proliferation disorder in a subject (e.g., a human subject), by orally administering a therapeutically-effective amount of interferon-tau (IFN.tau.) to the subject. The orally-administered IFN.tau. is preferably ingested by the subject. Examples of cell proliferation disorders amenable to treatment, dosages, and sources of IFN.tau. are as presented above.

In still another aspect, the invention includes a method of treating a viral disease in a subject (e.g., a human subject), by orally administering a therapeutically-effective amount of interferon-tau (IFN.tau.) to the subject. The orally-administered IFN.tau. is preferably ingested by the subject. Examples of viral diseases amenable to treatment, dosages, and sources of IFN.tau. are as presented above.

A further aspect of the invention includes a method of enhancing fertility in a female mammal (e.g., a human female), by orally administering a therapeutically-effective amount of interferon-tau (IFN.tau.) to the mammal. Examples of dosages and sources of IFN.tau. are as presented above.


Interferon-tau (IFN.tau.)

A. Introduction

The first IFN.tau. to be identified was ovine IFN.tau. (OvIFN.tau.). Several isoforms of the 18 19 kDa protein were identified in conceptus (the embryo and surrounding membranes) homogenates (Martal., et al., 1979). Subsequently, a low molecular weight protein released into conceptus culture medium was purified and shown to be both heat labile and susceptible to proteases (Godkin, et al., 1982). OvIFN.tau. was originally called ovine trophoblast protein-one (oTP-1) because it was the primary secretory protein initially produced by trophectoderm of the sheep conceptus during the critical period of maternal recognition in sheep. One isolate of mature OvIFN.tau. is 172 amino acids in length (SEQ ID NO:2).

IFN.tau.s with similar characteristics and activities have been isolated from other ruminant species including cows and goats (Bartol, et al., 1985; Gnatek, et al., 1989; Helmer, et al., 1987; and Imakawa, et al., 1989). Bovine IFN.tau. (BoIFN.tau.) and OvIFN.tau. have (i) have similar functions in maternal recognition of pregnancy, and (ii) share a high degree of amino acid and nucleotide sequence homology between mature proteins. The nucleic acid sequence homology between OvIFN.tau. and BoIFN.tau. is 76.3% for the 5' non-coding region, 89.7% for the coding region, and 91.9% for the 3' non-coding region. The amino acid sequence homology is 80.4%.

Antisera to all the IFN.tau.s cross-react. This is not unexpected since the species specific forms of IFN.tau. are more closely homologous to each other than to the IFNs.alpha. from the identical species (Roberts, et al., 1992). Relative to other interferons, OvIFN.tau. shares about 45 to 68% amino acid homology with Interferon-.alpha. and the greatest sequence similarity with the ( of about 68%.

While IFN.tau. displays many of the activities classically associated with type I IFNs (see Table 1, above -- see Original Patent), considerable differences exist between it and the other type I IFNs. The most prominent difference is its role in pregnancy, detailed above. Also different is viral induction. All type I IFNs, except IFN.tau., are induced readily by virus and dsRNA (Roberts, et al., 1992). Induced IFN.alpha. and IFN.beta. expression is transient, lasting approximately a few hours. In contrast, IFN.tau. synthesis, once induced, is maintained over a period of days (Godkin, et al., 1982). On a per-cell basis, 300-fold more IFN.tau. is produced than other type I IFNs (Cross and Roberts, 1991).

Other differences may exist in the regulatory regions of the IFN.tau. gene. For example, transfection of the human trophoblast cell line JAR with the gene for bovine IFN.tau. resulted in antiviral activity while transfection with the bovine IFN.beta. gene did not. This implies unique transacting factors involved in IFN.tau. gene expression. Consistent with this is the observation that while the proximal promoter region (from 126 to the transcriptional start site) of IFN.tau. is highly homologous to that of IFN.alpha. and IFN.beta.; the region from -126 to -450 is not homologous and enhances only IFN.tau. expression (Cross and Roberts, 1991). Thus, different regulatory factors appear to be involved in IFN.tau. expression as compared with the other type I IFNs.

IFN.tau. expression may also differ between species. For example, although IFN.tau. expression is restricted to a particular stage (primarily days 13 21) of conceptus development in ruminants (Godkin, et al., 1982), preliminary studies suggest that the human form of IFN.tau. is constitutively expressed throughout pregnancy (Whaley, et al., 1994).

B. Production of IFN.tau.

IFN.tau. polypeptides suitable for use in the methods of the present invention may produced in any of a number of ways. For example, they may be purified from animal tissues in which they are expressed, synthesized using a peptide synthesizer or produced recombinantly.

Recombinant IFN.tau. protein may be produced from any selected IFN.tau. polynucleotide fragment using a suitable expression system, such as bacterial or yeast cells. The isolation of IFN.tau. nucleotide and polypeptide sequences is described in Bazer, et al. (1994). For example, Bazer, et al., describe the identification and isolation of a human IFN.tau. gene. A synthetic nucleotide sequence encoding a mature human interferon-.tau. (HuIFN.tau.) protein is presented herein as SEQ ID NO:3. SEQ ID NO:4 is the corresponding amino acid sequence for a mature HuIFN.tau.1 protein. SEQ ID NO:5 is the nucleotide sequence, excluding leader sequence, of genomic DNA clone HuIFN.tau.3, a natural HuIFN.tau. gene, and SEQ ID NO:6 is the predicted amino acid sequence of a mature human IFN.tau. protein encoded by the sequence represented as SEQ ID NO:5.

To make an IFN.tau. expression vector, an IFN.tau. coding sequence (e.g, SEQ ID NO:1) is placed in an expression vector, e.g., a bacterial expression vector, and expressed according to standard methods. Examples of suitable vectors include lambda gt11 (Promega, Madison Wis.); pGEX (Smith, et al., 1985); pGEMEX (Promega); and pBS (Stratagene, La Jolla Calif.) vectors. Other bacterial expression vectors containing suitable promoters, such as the T7 RNA polymerase promoter or the tac promoter, may also be used. Cloning of the OvIFN.tau. synthetic polynucleotide into a modified pIN III omp-A expression vector is described in the Materials and Methods.

For the experiments described herein, the OvIFN.tau. coding sequence present in SEQ ID NO:1 was cloned into a vector, suitable for transformation of yeast cells, containing the methanol-regulated alcohol oxidase (AOX) promoter and a Pho1 signal sequence. The vector was used to transform P. pastoris host cells and transformed cells were used to express the protein according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Other yeast vectors suitable for expressing IFN.tau. for use with methods of the present invention include 2 micron plasmid vectors (Ludwig, et al., 1993), yeast integrating plasmids (YIps; e.g., Shaw, et al., 1988), YEP vectors (Shen, et al., 1986), yeast centromere plasmids (YCps; e.g., Ernst, 1986), and other vectors with regulatable expression (Hitzeman, et al., 1988; Rutter, et al., 1988; Oeda, et al., 1988). Preferably, the vectors include an expression cassette containing an effective yeast promoter, such as the MF.alpha.1 promoter (Ernst, 1986; Bayne, et al., 1988, GADPH promoter (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase; Wu, et al., 1991) or the galactose-inducible GAL10 promoter (Ludwig, et al., 1993; Feher, et al., 1989; Shen, et al., 1986). The yeast transformation host is typically Saccharomyces cerevisiae, however, as illustrated above, other yeast suitable for transformation can be used as well (e.g., Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Pichia pastoris and the like).

Further, a DNA encoding an IFN.tau. polypeptide can be cloned into any number of commercially available vectors to generate expression of the polypeptide in the appropriate host system. These systems include the above described bacterial and yeast expression systems as well as the following: baculovirus expression (Reilly, et al., 1992; Beames, et al., 1991; Clontech, Palo Alto Calif.); plant cell expression, transgenic plant expression (e.g., Gelvin and Schilperoot, 1988), and expression in mammalian cells (Clontech, Palo Alto Calif.; Gibco-BRL, Gaithersburg Md.). These recombinant polypeptides can be expressed as fusion proteins or as native proteins. A number of features can be engineered into the expression vectors, such as leader sequences which promote the secretion of the expressed sequences into culture medium. The recombinantly produced polypeptides are typically isolated from lysed cells or culture media. Purification can be carried out by methods known in the art including salt fractionation, ion exchange chromatography, and affinity chromatography. Immunoaffinity chromatography can be employed, as described above, using antibodies generated based on the IFN.tau. polypeptides.

In addition to recombinant methods, IFN.tau. proteins or polypeptides can be isolated from selected cells by affinity-based methods, such as by using appropriate antibodies. Further, IFN.tau. peptides may be chemically synthesized using methods known to those skilled in the art.

III. Effectiveness of Orally-Administered IFN.tau.

Experiments performed in support of the present invention and detailed below demonstrate that orally-administered IFN.tau. polypeptide compositions are comparable in efficacy to injected IFN.tau. compositions with respect to the treatment of diseases or disease conditions which benefit from treatment with IFN.tau..

Not only was orally-administered IFN.tau. effective at treating a disease benefiting from IFN.tau. treatment (EAE), but the oral route of administration resulted in unexpected advantages relative to treatment with injected IFN.tau. compositions. For example, orally-administered IFN.tau. resulted in a significantly lower level of anti-IFN.tau. antibodies in the serum of treated individuals (see Example 7). This is beneficial because the orally-administered IFN.tau. is therefore less likely to be rendered ineffective by a host immune response (i.e., desensitization to the treatment and/or dose level is significantly decreased), and the individual receiving the treatment is less likely to suffer adverse side effects as a result of such an immune response.

Results of experiments demonstrating these and related findings are presented below.

A. Orally-Administered IFN.tau. Inhibits Development of EAE

The efficacy of IFN.tau. in treating autoimmune disorders may be evaluated in rodents with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE; Zamvil and Steinman, 1990), an animal model of antigen-induced autoimmunity. EAE resembles human multiple sclerosis (MS) both in its clinical and pathological manifestations and can thus be used to assess treatments for human autoimmune diseases such as MS. EAE is a T-cell-mediated inflammatory autoimmune demyelinating disease induced by immunizing susceptible mouse, rat or guinea pig strains with myelin basic protein (MBP) or with encephalitogenic peptide fragments. Genetic susceptibility in the model animal strains is based in part on the capacity of encephalitogenic peptides to bind to particular class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC-II) molecules (Fritz, et al., 1983; Wraith, et al., 1989). In particular, mice having the H-2.sup.u haplotype are susceptible to EAE. Susceptible mouse strains include PL/J mice (Klein, et al., 1983), (PL/J.times.SJL)F.sub.1 mice (Zamvil and Steinman, 1990; Wraith, et al., 1989), B10.PL mice (Figuero, et al., 1982), NZW mice (Kotzin, et al., 1987), and (NZB.times.NZW)F1 (Kotzin, et al., 1987) mice.

Gamma-interferon (IFN.gamma.) and beta-interferon (IFN.beta.) have been demonstrated to be effective in treating multiple sclerosis (Johnson, et al., 1994; IFN.beta. Multiple Sclerosis Study Group, 1993). In fact, IFN.beta. has been approved by the FDA as a therapeutic for multiple sclerosis. Although .beta.-IFN is effective against MS, it has relatively high toxicity, and as a result, has a variety of undesirable side effects. As described herein, however, IFN.tau. has significantly lower toxicity that other interferons and may therefore exhibit fewer undesirable side effects.

In experiments performed in support of the present invention and detailed in Example 1, orally-administered and injected IFN-.tau. was tested for its ability to prevent the induction of EAE. EAE was induced in New Zealand White (NZW) mice by immunization with bovine myelin basic protein (bMBP). Recipient NZW mice received OvIFN.tau. by either i.p. injection or oral feeding 48 hours prior to, on the day of, and 48 hours after immunization with bovine myelin basic protein (bMBP) for induction of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE).

Both oral feeding and i.p. injection of OvIFN.tau. protected against EAE (Example 1, Table 3). All animals that received IFN.tau. via i.p. injection, and 7 of 9 animals that received IFN.tau. orally, were protected from symptoms of EAE. Furthermore, anti-OvIFN.tau. monoclonal antibody HL127 was effective at partially neutralizing the ability of the OvIFN.tau. to block EAE. These experiments demonstrate that orally-administered IFN.tau. is effective in treating symptoms of EAE, an animal model of multiple sclerosis.

B. OvIFN.tau. is Present in Sera Following Oral Administration

To confirm that orally-administered IFN.tau. enters the circulation, the sera of mice that received IFN.tau. by i.p injection or by oral administration were tested for the presence of IFN.tau. using a cytopathic effect (antiviral) assay (Familetti, et al., 1981) as described in Example 2.

The results are shown in FIG. 1 (see Original Patent). Specific activities are expressed in antiviral units/mg protein obtained from antiviral assays using MDBK cells. OvIFN.tau. was detected for up to two 2 hours following oral feeding (filled bars) at levels of 200 U/ml. These data indicate that orally-administered IFN.tau. enters the circulation and remains in serum for about two hours after being administered.

C. Lack of Toxicity From Orally-administered OvIFN.tau.

It has been previously demonstrated that the type I IFNs IFN.alpha. and IFN.beta. induced toxic side effects manifested as flu like symptoms, fever, nausea and malaise when used as therapeutics in humans (Degre, 1974; Fent and Zbinden, 1987). In contrast, OvIFN.tau. exhibits a remarkable lack of toxicity both in vitro and in vivo. Experiments performed in support of the present invention compared OvIFN.tau. with IFNs .alpha. and .beta. for induction of toxicity as measured by lymphocyte depression in peripheral blood when given via oral feeding. Blood was obtained from the tail and white blood cells (WBC) counts were enumerated using a hemocytometer. Differential WBC counts were performed on Wright-Giemsa-stained blood smears.

The results are shown in Tables 2a, 2b and 2c (see Original Patent). Significant levels of toxicity were detected in mice fed either IFN .alpha. and .beta. while no significant lymphocyte depression was detected in mice fed 10.sup.5, 2.times.10.sup.5 or 5.times.10.sup.5 U of OvIFN.tau. or PBS alone. These data suggest that orally-administered OvIFN.tau. has significantly-reduced toxicity with respect to other type I IFNs.

D. OvIFN.tau. Prevents Chronic Relapse of EAE

In addition to preventing the onset of symptoms associated with EAE, orally-administered OvIFN.tau. prevents paralysis in a chronic-relapsing model of EAE, as detailed in Example 3. Whereas 5/5 mice immunized with MBP (to induce EAE) which did not receive OvIFN.tau. treatment developed chronic relapsing paralysis, 4/5 animals treated with OvIFN.tau. (either i.p. injection or oral feeding, administered every 48 hours) were fully protected from the disease (FIGS. 2B and 2C). These data further support the results described above, and indicate that oral administration of IFN.tau. can block the development of chronic relapsing EAE. The experiments also suggest that oral-administration of IFN.tau. as infrequently as once every 48 hours, over an extended period of time, is as effective as i.p. injection at treating a disease condition responsive to treatment by interferon-tau.

E. Histological Analyses of Spinal Chord from EAE Mice following Oral Administration of IFN.tau..

The ability of OvIFN.tau. to prevent EAE was also assayed by analyzing the effect of OvIFN.tau. treatment on cellular consequences of the disease, manifested in the central nervous system (CNS) as lymphocytic lesions in spinal cord white matter. The lesions are indicative of the extent of lymphocyte infiltration into the CNS. MBP-immunized mice were either not treated (control) or treated with OvIFN.tau. by oral or i.p. routes, and sections of the spinal cord lumbar region were stained and evaluated for lymphocytes as described in Example 4. Lymphocytic lesions were present in spinal cord white matter of control animals (FIG. 3A), but not in mice treated with OvIFN.tau. by i.p. injection (FIG. 3B) or oral feeding (FIG. 3C). These data indicate that the protective effect of IFN.tau. is associated with inhibition of lymphocyte infiltration of the CNS. Further, the data demonstrate that IFN.tau. treatment inhibits cellular manifestation of the autoimmune disease, rather than simply masking symptoms.

F. Cessation of Treatment with OvIFN.tau. Results in Relapsing Paralysis

Experiments detailed in Example 6 were performed to determine the type and duration of treatment effective to prevent EAE in mice injected with MBP. The mice were protected from EAE by OvIFN.tau. treatment via i.p. injection or oral feeding (every 48 hours) as long as the treatment persisted (58 days in Example 6), but developed symptoms of the disease after OvIFN.tau. treatment was stopped (FIG. 5). These results suggest that while IFN.tau. may not cure an autoimmune condition like EAE (e.g., MS), it is an effective treatment that inhibits the pathological manifestations of the condition so long as treatment is continued.

G. Oral Administration of OvIFN.tau. Reduces Anti-OvIFN.tau. Antibody Response

As detailed in Example 7, one advantage of orally-administered (as opposed to injected) IFN.tau. treatment is a reduction in the anti-IFN.tau. antibody titer in individuals receiving the oral treatment. After removal of OvIFN.tau. treatment, mice from each treatment group were bled and sera were examined for the presence of anti-OvIFN.tau. antibodies by ELISA. Whereas mice receiving IFN.tau. by i.p. injection exhibited elevated levels of anti-IFN.tau. antibodies, animals receiving IFN.tau. by oral feeding exhibited much lower anti-IFN.tau. antibody titers (typically 3 to 5-fold lower). As expected mice which received no OvIFN.tau. treatment displayed no anti-OvIFN.tau. antibodies.

The sera were also examined for their ability to neutralize OvIFN.tau. antiviral activity on the MDBK cell line. None of the sera from either i.p. injected or orally fed mice possessed neutralizing activity (Table 4 (see Original Patent)). These results suggest that oral feeding of OvIFN.tau. largely circumvents an antibody response directed against the OvIFN.tau. protein. Such a reduced antibody response in orally-treated subjects reduces the chance of undesirable immune system-related side effects of IFN.tau. treatment.

IV. Applications

A. IFN.tau. as a Treatment for Immune System Disorders

Diseases which may be treated using methods of the present invention include autoimmune, inflammatory, proliferative and hyperproliferative diseases, as well as cutaneous manifestations of immunologically mediated diseases. In particular, methods of the present invention are advantageous for treating conditions relating to immune system hypersensitivity. There are four types of immune system hypersensitivity (Clayman, 1991). Type I, or immediate/anaphylactic hypersensitivity, is due to mast cell degranulation in response to an allergen (e.g., pollen), and includes asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), urticaria (hives), anaphylactic shock, and other illnesses of an allergic nature. Type II, or autoimmune hypersensitivity, is due to antibodies that are directed against perceived "antigens" on the body's own cells. Type III hypersensitivity is due to the formation of antigen/antibody immune complexes which lodge in various tissues and activate further immune responses, and is responsible for conditions such as serum sickness, allergic alveolitis, and the large swellings that sometimes form after booster vaccinations. Type IV hypersensitivity is due to the release of lymphokines from sensitized T-cells, which results in an inflammatory reaction. Examples include contact dermatitis, the rash of measles, and "allergic" reactions to certain drugs.

The mechanisms by which certain conditions may result in hypersensitivity in some individuals are generally not well understood, but may involve both genetic and extrinsic factors. For example, bacteria, viruses or drugs may play a role in triggering an autoimmune response in an individual who already has a genetic predisposition to the autoimmune disorder. It has been suggested that the incidence of some types of hypersensitivity may be correlated with others. For example, it has been proposed that individuals with certain common allergies are more susceptible to autoimmune disorders.

Autoimmune disorders may be loosely grouped into those primarily restricted to specific organs or tissues and those that affect the entire body. Examples of organ-specific disorders (with the organ affected) include multiple sclerosis (myelin coating on nerve processes), type I diabetes mellitus (pancreas), Hashimotos thyroiditis (thyroid gland), pernicious anemia (stomach), Addison's disease (adrenal glands), myasthenia gravis (acetylcholine receptors at neuromuscularjunction), rheumatoid arthritis (joint lining), uveitis (eye), psoriasis (skin), Guillain-Barre Syndrome (nerve cells) and Grave's disease (thyroid). Systemic autoimmune diseases include systemic lupus erythematosus and dermatomyositis.

Other examples of hypersensitivity disorders include asthma, eczema, atopical dermatitis, contact dermatitis, other eczematous dermatitides, seborrheic dermatitis, rhinitis, Lichen planus, Pemplugus, bullous Pemphigoid, Epidermolysis bullosa, uritcaris, angioedemas, vasculitides, erythemas, cutaneous eosinophilias, Alopecia areata, atherosclerosis, primary biliary cirrhosis and nephrotic syndrome. Related diseases include intestinal inflammations, such as Coeliac disease, proctitis, eosinophilia gastroenteritis, mastocytosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Chrohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as food-related allergies.

Autoimmune diseases particularly amenable for treatment using the methods of the present invention include multiple sclerosis, type I (insulin dependent) diabetes mellitus, lupus erythematosus, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stomatitis, asthma, uveitis, allergies and psoriasis.

Methods of the present invention may be used to therapeutically treat and thereby alleviate autoimmune disorders such as those discussed above. These treatments are exemplified herein with respect to the treatment of EAE, an animal model for multiple sclerosis.

B. IFN.tau. as Treatment for Reproductive Disorders

Although IFN.tau. bears some similarity to the IFN.alpha. family based on structure and its potent antiviral properties, the IFN.alpha.s do not possess the reproductive properties associated with IFN.tau.. For example, recombinant human IFN.alpha. had no effect on interestrous interval compared to IFN.tau., even when administered at twice the dose (Davis, et al., 1992).

Therefore, although IFN.tau. has some structural similarities to other interferons, it has very distinctive properties of its own: for example, the capability of significantly influencing the biochemical events of the estrous cycle.

The IFN.tau. compositions of the present invention can be used in methods of enhancing fertility and prolonging the life span of the corpus luteum in female mammals as generally described in Hansen, et al. (1991), herein incorporated by reference. According to the teachings herein, such methods of enhancing fertility include oral administration of IFN.tau. in a therapeutically-effective amount. Further, the compositions may be similarly employed to regulate growth and development of uterine and/or fetal-placental tissues. Compositions containing human IFN.tau. are particularly useful for treatment of humans, since potential antigenic responses are less likely using a same-species protein.

C. IFN.tau. as an Antiviral Treatment

The antiviral activity of IFN.tau. has broad therapeutic applications without the toxic effects that are usually associated with IFN.alpha.s. As described above, IFN.tau. exerts its therapeutic activity without adverse effects on the cells. The relative lack of cytotoxicity of IFN.tau. makes it extremely valuable as an in vivo therapeutic agent and sets IFN.tau. apart from most other known antiviral agents and all other known interferons.

Formulations containing IFN.tau. can be orally-administered to inhibit viral replication. Further, the compositions can be employed in methods for affecting the immune relationship between fetus and mother, for example, in preventing transmission of maternal viruses (e.g., HIV) to the developing fetus. Compositions containing a human interferon-.tau. are particularly useful for treatment of humans, since potential antigenic responses are less likely using a homologous protein.

Examples of specific viral diseases which may be treated by orally-administered IFN.tau. include, but are not limited to, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, non-A, non-B, non-C hepatitis, Epstein-Barr viral infection, HIV infection, herpes virus (EB, CML, herpes simplex), papilloma, poxvirus, picorna virus, adeno virus, rhino virus, HTLV I, HTLV II, and human rotavirus.

D. IFN.tau. as an Antiproliferative Treatment

IFN.tau. exhibits potent anticellular proliferation activity. Accordingly, pharmaceutical compositions containing IFN.tau., suitable for oral administration, can be used to inhibit cellular growth without the negative side effects associated with other interferons which are currently known. Such compositions or formulations can be used to inhibit, prevent, or slow tumor growth.

Examples of specific cell proliferation disorders which may be treated by orally-administered IFN.tau. include, but are not limited to, hairy cell leukemia, Kaposi's Sarcoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia, multiple myeloma, superficial bladder cancer, skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma), renal cell carcinoma, ovarian cancer, low grade lymphocytic and cutaneous T cell lymphoma, and glioma.

Furthermore, the development of certain tumors is mediated by estrogen. Experiments performed in support of the present invention indicate that IFN.tau. can suppress estrogen receptor numbers. Therefore, the IFN.tau.-containing compositions may be particularly useful in the treatment or prevention of estrogen-dependent tumors.

E. Veterinary Applications

In addition to the uses of the methods of the present invention detailed above, it will be appreciated that the methods may be applied to the treatment of a variety of immune system disorders suffered by domesticated and wild animals. For example, hypothyroidism in dogs typically results from a progressive destruction of the thyroid, which may be associated with Lymphocytic thyroiditis (Kemppainen and Clark, 1994). Lymphocytic thyroiditis, which resembles Hashimoto's thyroiditis in humans, is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. According to the guidance presented herein, hypothyroidism due to Lymphocytic thyroiditis in dogs may be treated with IFN.tau. as described above.

Another type of autoimmune disorder in dogs that may be alleviated by treatment with IFN.tau. is characterized by antinuclear antibody (ANA) positivity, pyrexia and seronegative arthritis (Day, et al., 1985). Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP; Kristensen, et al., 1994; Werner, et al., 1985), systemic lupus erythematosus (Kristensen, et al., 1994), and leukopenia and Coomb's positive hemolytic anemia (Werner, et al., 1985), may also be amenable to treatment using methods of the present invention.

V. IFN Pharmaceutical Composition Useful for Oral Administration

A. Formulation

Therapeutic preparations containing IFN.tau. or related polypeptides or proteins can be formulated according to known methods for preparing pharmaceutically useful compositions. Formulations comprising polypeptides like interferons have been previously described (e.g., Martin, 1976). In general., the IFN.tau. therapeutic compositions are formulated such that an effective amount of the IFN.tau. is combined with a suitable additive, carrier and/or excipient in order to facilitate effective oral administration of the composition. For example, tablets and capsules containing IFN.tau. may be prepared by combining IFN.tau. (e.g., lyophilized IFN.tau. protein) with additives such as pharmaceutically acceptable carriers (e.g., lactose, corn starch, light silicic anhydride, microcrystalline cellulose, sucrose), binders (e.g., alpha-form starch, methylcellulose, carboxymethylcellulose, hydroxypropylcellulose, hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, polyvinylpyrrolidone), disintegrating agents (e.g., carboxymethylcellulose calcium, starch, low substituted hydroxy-propylcellulose), surfactants (e.g., Tween 80, polyoxyethylene-polyoxypropylene copolymer), antioxidants (e.g., L-cysteine, sodium sulfite, sodium ascorbate), lubricants (e.g., magnesium stearate, talc), or the like.

Further, IFN.tau. polypeptides of the present invention can be mixed with a solid, pulverulent or other carrier, for example lactose, saccharose, sorbitol, mannitol, starch, such as potato starch, corn starch, millopectine, cellulose derivative or gelatine, and may also include lubricants, such as magnesium or calcium stearate, or polyethylene glycol waxes compressed to the formation of tablets. By using several layers of the carrier or diluent, tablets operating with slow release can be prepared.

Liquid preparations for oral administration can be made in the form of elixirs, syrups or suspensions, for example solutions containing from about 0.1% to about 30% by weight of IFN.tau., sugar and a mixture of ethanol, water, glycerol, propylene, glycol and possibly other additives of a conventional nature.

B. Dosage

An orally-active IFN.tau. pharmaceutical composition is administered in a therapeutically-effective amount to an individual in need of treatment. The dose may vary considerably and is dependent on factors such as the seriousness of the disorder, the age and the weight of the patient, other medications that the patient may be taking and the like. This amount or dosage is typically determined by the attending physician. The dosage will typically be between about 1.times.10.sup.5 and 1.times.10.sup.8 units/day, preferably between about 1.times.10.sup.6 and 1.times.10.sup.7 units/day. It will be appreciated that because of its lower toxicity, IFN.tau. can be administered at higher doses than, for example, IFN.beta.. By way of comparison, patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) were treated with 10.sup.6 U and 8.times.10.sup.6 U of IFN.beta.. Patients receiving 8.times.10.sup.6 U suffered fewer relapses of disease than did patients receiving 10.sup.6 U. However, patients receiving the higher dose of IFN.beta. (8.times.10.sup.6 U) also exhibited more side-effects associated with IFN.beta.'s toxicity. In view of the lower toxicity of IFN.tau., these higher effective dosages could be administered without the associated toxic side-effects.

Disorders requiring a steady elevated level of IFN.tau. in plasma will benefit from administration as often as about every two to four hours, while other disorders, such as MS, may be effectively treated by administering a therapeutically-effective dose at less frequent intervals, e.g., once every 48 hours. The rate of administration of individual doses is typically adjusted by an attending physician to enable administration of the lowest total dosage while alleviating the severity of the disease being treated.

Once improvement of a patient's condition has occurred, a maintenance dose is administered if necessary. Subsequently, the dosage or the frequency of administration, or both, may be reduced, as a function of the symptoms, to a level at which the improved condition is retained.

C. Combination Therapies

It will, of course, be understood that the compositions and methods of this invention may be used in combination with other therapies. For example, in view of IFN.tau.'s relative lack of toxicity at high dosages, MS patients that do not show improvement at IFN.beta.1b's low dosage or could not tolerate IFN.beta.1b due to toxicity may benefit from subsequent or simultaneous treatment with higher dosages of IFN.tau. or peptides derived therefrom. Further, development of neutralizing antibodies has been demonstrated in IFN.beta.1b treated patients (Weinstock-Guttman, et al., 1995). In cases where such neutralizing antibodies prove to impede the effectiveness of IFN.beta.1b, IFN.tau. may be an important alternative therapy, since antibody cross-reactivity is unlikely to occur, and IFN.tau. is unlikely to generate neutralizing antibodies (see Example 7). Orally-administered IFN.tau. is particularly advantageous in this respect, since it causes a significantly lower anti-IFN.tau. antibody response than injected IFN.tau..

Another type of combination therapy enabled by the present invention is the oral administration of an antigen against which an autoimmune response is directed in combination with IFN.tau.. Oral administration of such an antigen can result in tolerization, reducing the severity of the autoimmune disease (for review, see, e.g., Weiner, et al., 1994). It is contemplated that the IFN.tau. has a synergistic effect with the tolerization induced by the antigen, thereby alleviating the severity of the autoimmune disease. For example, MBP has been shown to suppress EAE (Lider, et al., 1989). According to the methods of the present invention, MBP may be administered in combination with IFN.tau. to treat multiple sclerosis. Other examples include administration of IFN.tau. with collagen to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and with acetylcholine receptor polypeptides to treat myasthenia gravis.

Furthermore, IFN.tau. may be orally administered with known immunosuppressants, such as steroids, to treat autoimmune diseases such a multiple sclerosis. The immunosuppressants may act synergistically with IFN.tau. and result in a more effective treatment that could be obtained with an equivalent dose of IFN.tau. or the immunosuppressant alone.

Similarly, in a treatment for a cancer or viral disease, IFN.tau. may be administered in conjunction with, e.g., a therapeutically effective amount of one or more chemotherapy agents such as busulfan, 5-fluoro-uracil (5-FU), zidovudine (AZT), leucovorin, melphalan, prednisone, cyclophosphamide, dacarbazine, cisplatin, and dipyridamole.

Claim 1 of 5 Claims

1. A method of reducing probability of relapse in a mammal with chronic, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, comprising: orally administering an interferon tau (IFN.tau.) to said mammal in an amount effective to reduce probability of relapse of the chronic relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and continuing to administer the IFN.tau. over an extended period of time.


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