Background: The clinical development of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs), a new class of drugs, requires initial safety studies that deviate from standard non-clinical safety protocols. The study provides a strategy to address the safety aspects of biodistribution and tumorigenicity of ATMPs under good laboratory practice (GLP) conditions avoiding cell product manipulation. Moreover, the strategy was applied on a human ATMP for cartilage repair. Methods: The testing strategy addresses biodistribution and tumorigenicity using a multi-step analysis without any cell manipulation to exclude changes of test item characteristics. As a safeguard measurement for meeting regulatory expectations, the project design and goals were discussed continuously with the regulatory authority using a staggered scientific advice concept. Subsequently, the strategy was applied to co.don chondrosphere® (huChon spheroid), a tissue-engineered matrix-free ATMP of human normal chondrocytes. In both the biodistribution and tumorigenicity studies, huChon spheroids were implanted subcutaneously into 40 immunodeficient mice. Biodistribution was studied 1 month after implantation. A skin disc containing the huChon spheroid, two surrounding skin rings and selected organs were analyzed by validated, gender-specific, highly-sensitive triplex qPCR and by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Results: No human DNA was detected in distant skin rings and analyzed organs. IHC revealed no direct or indirect indications of cell migration. Tumorigenicity was assessed 6 months after huChon spheroid implantation by palpation, macroscopic inspection, histology and IHC. No mice from the huChon spheroid group developed a tumor at the implantation site. In two mice, benign tumors were detected that were negative for HLA-ABC, suggesting that they were of spontaneous murine origin. Conclusions: In summary, the presented strategy using a multi-step analysis was confirmed to be suitable for safety studies of ATMPs.
- Cartilage repair
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)