US 20060142195 A1
The invention pertains to the use and production of non-neurotoxic plasminogen activating factors e.g. of Desmodus rotundus (DSPA) for the therapeutic treatment of stroke in humans in order to provide a new therapeutic concept for treating stroke in humans.
1. A method of treating stroke in a mammal, comprising administering to the mammal a therapeutically effective amount of a plasminogen activating factor (PAF), wherein the PAF's activity is enhanced by more than 650 fold in the presence of fibrin.
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18. A tissue plasminogen activating factor (PAF) with an autolysis loop comprising His420, Asn421, Ala422 and Cys423.
19. The PAF according to
20. The PAF according to
21. The PAF according to
22. The PAF according to
23. A plasminogen activating factor having an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO:1.
24. A modified urokinase having enzymatic activity in presence of fibrin enhanced by more than 500-fold compared to wild type urkinase.
25. A urokinase comprising an autolysis loop comprising Val420, Thr421, Asp422 and Ser423.
26. The urokinase according to
27. The urokinase according to
28. The urokinase according to
29. The urokinase according to
30. A urokinase having an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID NO:2.
31. A pharmaceutical composition comprising urokinase according to
32. Method of conducting fibrinolysis comprising administering an effective amount of urkinase according to one of the claims 24, 25 or 30.
33. A method of treating stroke in a mammal, comprising administering to the mammal a therapeutically effective amount of the urkinase of
34. A pharmaceutical composition containing a plasminogen activating factor according to
35. The pharmaceutical composition according to
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46. A method for manufacturing a drug for the treatment of stroke containing one non-neurotoxic plasminogen activating factor comprising at least one of the following steps for the modification of the plasminogen activating factor:
(a) introducing at least a part of a cymogenic triade;
(b) substituting Asp194 or a homologous aspartate for reducing the stabilization of the catalytic active conformation in the absence of fibrin;
(c) substituting the hydrophobic amino acid residues in the autolysis loop or in homologous peptide sections to that; or
(d) introducing a mutation in the cymogene for preventing the catalysis of the cymogene by plasmin.
47. A drug produced according to the method of
This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 10/184,01 filed Jun. 28, 2002, which claims the benefit of priority to German Patent Application No. 101 53 601.1, filed on Nov. 2, 2001, and European Patent Application No. 01 130 006.8 filed on Dec. 17, 2001, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.
The invention pertains to the therapeutic use of non-neurotoxic plasminogen activators especially from the saliva of Desmodus rotundus (DSPA) preferentially for the treatment of stroke.
The term “stroke” is a general term that covers conditions having different clinical symptoms. For example, a stroke may be caused by an ischaemic or haemorrhagic insult.
Ischaemic insults (ischaemia) are characterized in a reduction or interruption of the blood circulation in the brain due to a lack of arterial blood supply. Often this is caused by thrombosis of an arteriosclerotic stenosed vessel or by arterio arterial, or cardial embolisms.
Haemorrhagic insults are based inter alia on the perforation of brain supplying arterias damaged by arterial hypertonia. However, only approximately 20% of all cerebral insults are caused by haemorrhagic insults. Thus, stroke due to thrombosis is much more prevalent.
In comparison to other tissue ischaemias, the ischaemia of the neuronal tissue is widely accompanied by necrosis of the effected cells. The higher incidence of necrosis in neuronal tissue can be explained with the new understanding of the phenomenon “excitotoxicity,” which is a complex cascade comprising a plurality of reaction steps. The cascade is initiated by ischaemic neurons affected by a lack of oxygen, which then lose ATP instantaneously and depolarize. This results in an increased postsynaptic release of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which activates membrane bound glutamate receptors regulating cation channels. However, due to the increased glutamate release glutamate receptors become over activated.
Glutamate receptors regulate voltage dependent cation channels, which are opened by a binding of glutamate to the receptor. This results in a Na+ and Ca2+ influx into the cell massively disturbing the Ca2+ dependent cellular metabolism. Especially the activation of the Ca2+ dependent catabolic enzymes result in subsequent cell death (Lee, Jin-Mo et al., “The changing landscape of ischaemic brain injury mechanisms”; Dennis W. Zhol “Glutamate neurotoxicity and diseases of the nervous system”).
Although the mechanism of glutamate mediated neurotoxicity is not yet entirely understood, it is agreed upon that it contributes in a large extent to neuronal cell death following cerebral ischaemia (Jin-Mo Lee, et al.).
The re-opening of a closed vessel has priority in the therapy of acute cerebral ischaemia, in addition to safeguarding vital functions and stabilizing physiological parameters. The re-opening can be performed by different means. The mere mechanical re-opening, as e.g., the PTCA after heart attack, so far has not yet led to satisfying results. Only with a successful fibrinolysis can an acceptable improvement of the physical condition of patients be achieved. This can be accomplished by a local application using a catheter (PROCAT, a study with pro-urokinase). However, despite initial positive results, this method has not yet been officially approved as a pharmaceutical treatment.
Naturally occurring fibrinolysis is based on the proteolytic activity of the serine protease plasmin, which originates from its inactive precursor by catalysis (activation). The natural activation of plasminogen is catalyzed by the plasminogen activators u-PA (urokinase type plasminogen activator) and t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator) occurring naturally in the body. In contrast to u-PA, t-PA forms a so-called activator complex together with fibrin and plasminogen. Thus, the catalytic activity of t-PA is fibrin dependent and is enhanced in its presence approximately 550-fold. Besides fibrin, fibrinogen can also stimulate t-PA mediated catalysis of plasminogen to plasmin, though to a lesser extent. In the presence of fibrinogen, the t-PA activity only increases 25-fold. Also the cleavage products of fibrin (fibrin degradation products (FDP)) can stimulate t-PA.
Early attempts of thrombolytic treatment of acute stroke go back to the 1950s. Extensive clinical trials with streptokinase, a fibrinolytic agent from beta-haemolysing streptococci, started in 1995. Streptokinase forms a complex with plasminogen that catalyzes other plasminogen molecules into plasmin.
Streptokinase therapy has severe disadvantages since streptokinase is a bacterial protease and therefore can provoke allergic reactions in the body. Furthermore, if a patient had a previous streptococci infection that resulted in a production of antibodies, the patient may exhibit streptokinase resistance, making the therapy more difficult. Besides this, clinical trials in Europe (Multicenter Acute Stroke Trial of Europe (MAST-E), Multicenter Acute Stroke Trial of Italy (MAST-I)) and Australia (Australian Streptokinase Trial (AST)) indicated an increased mortality risk and a higher risk of intracerebral bleeding (intracerebral haemorrhage, ICH) after treating patients with streptokinase. These trials had to be terminated early.
Alternatively, urokinase—also a classical fibrinolytic agent—can be used. In contrast to streptokinase, it does not exhibit antigenic characteristics since it is an enzyme naturally occurring in various body tissues. It is an activator of plasminogen and independent of a co-factor. Urokinase is produced in kidney cell cultures.
Another therapeutic thrombolysis agent tested was a recombinant tissue type plasminogen activator, rt-PA (see EP 0 093 619, U.S. Pat. No. 4,766,075), produced in recombinant hamster cells. In the 1990s several clinical trials were performed world-wide using t-PA with acute myocardial infarction as the main indication, leading to only partially understood and contradictory results. In the European Acute Stroke Trial (ECASS) patients were treated within a time frame of 6 hours after the onset of the symptoms of a stroke intravenously with rt-PA. After 90 days the mortality rate as well as the Barthel-Index were examined as an Index for the disability or the independent viability of patients. No significant improvement of the viability was reported but an increase of mortality was seen. Thus, a thrombolytic treatment with rt-PA of patients being individually selected according to their respective case history immediately after the beginning of the stroke could possibly be advantageous. However, a general use of rt-PA within the time frame of 6 hours after the onset of stroke was not recommended since an application during this time increased the risk of intracerebal haemorrhage (ICH) (C. Lewandowski C and Wiliam Barsan, 2001: Treatment of Acute Stroke; in: Annals of Emergency Medicine 37:2; S. 202 ff.).
The thrombolytic treatment of stroke was also subject of a clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Neurologic Disorder and Stroke (so called NINDS rtPA Stroke Trial) in the USA. This trial concentrated on the effect of intravenous rt-PA treatment within only three hours after the onset of the symptoms. Patients were examined three months after the treatment. Due to the observed positive effects of this treatment on the viability of patients; rt-PA treatment within the limited time frame of three hours was recommended, although the authors found a higher risk for ICH.
Two further studies (ECASS II Trial: Alteplase Thrombolysis for Acute Noninterventional Therapy in Ischaemic Stroke (ATLANTIS)) examined whether the positive effects of rt-PA treatment within three hours after the onset of stroke could be repeated instead with a treatment within six hours time. However, the results indicated that there was no improvement in the clinical symptoms, nor was there any decrease in mortality. Further, the higher risk for ICH remained.
These partially contradictory results led to a high caution in the use of rt-PA. A 1996 publication of the American Heart Association pointed out the strong skepticism among doctors with respect to thrombolytic treatment of stroke; in contrast, there is no such skepticism with respect to fibrinolytica in the therapy of myocardical infarct (van Gijn J, MD, FRCP, 1996—Circulation 1996, 93: 1616-1617).
A rationale behind this skepticism was first given in a summary of all stroke trials published 1997 (updated in March 2001). According to this review all thrombolytica treatments (urokinase, streptokinase, rt-PA or recombinant urokinase) resulted in a significant higher mortality within the first 10 days after a stroke, while the total number of either dead or disabled patients was reduced when the thrombolytica were applied within six hours after stroke onset. This effect was mainly due to ICH. Such results gave reason to some to make the sarcastic statement that stroke patients had the choice to either die or to survive disabled (SCRIP 1997: 2265, 26). The broad use of thrombolytica for the treatment of stroke was therefore not recommended.
Nevertheless, the therapy with rt-PA currently is the only treatment of acute cerebral ischaemia approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA. However, it is restricted to administration within three hours after the onset of stroke.
The approval of rt-PA was reached in 1996. In 1995, first announcements about negative side effects of t-PA became known, which provide an explanatory basis for its dramatic effects when applied in stroke treatment outside the three hour time frame. Microglia cells and neuronal cells of the hippocampus produce t-PA, which contributes to the glutamate mediated excitotoxicity. This was concluded from a comparative study on t-PA deficient and wild type mice where glutamate agonists were injected in their hippocampuses. The t-PA deficient mice showed a significant higher resistance against external (inthrathecal) applicated glutamate (Tsirka S E et al., Nature, Vol. 377, 1995, “Excitoxin-induced neuronal degeneration and seizure are mediated by tissue plasminogen activator”). These results were confirmed in 1998, when Wang et al. demonstrated a nearly double quantity of necrotic neuronal tissue in t-PA deficient mice when t-PA was injected intravenously. This negative effect of external t-PA on wild type mice was only approximately 33% (Wang et al., 1998, Nature, “Tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) increases neuronal damage after focal cerebral ischaemia in wild type and t-PA deficient mice”.)
Further results on the stimulation of excitotoxicity by t-PA were published by Nicole et al. in the beginning of 2001 (Nicole O., Docagne F Ali C; Margaill I; Carmeliet P; MacKenzie E T, Vivien D and Buisson A, 2001: The proteolytic activity of tissue-plasminogen activator enhances NMDA receptor-mediated signaling; in: Nat Med 7, 59-64). They showed that t-PA being released by depolarized cortical neurons could interact with the NR1 sub-unit of the glutamate receptor of the NMDA type, leading to a cleavage of NR1. This increased the receptor's activity, resulting in greater tissue damage after glutamate agonist NMDA was applied. The NMDA agonist induced excitotoxicity. Thus, t-PA exhibits a neurotoxic effect by activating the glutamate receptor of the NMDA type.
According to a further explanation, the neurotoxicity of t-PA results indirectly from the conversion of plasminogen in plasmin. According to this model plasmin is the effector of neurotoxicity (Chen Z L and Strickland S, 1997: Neuronal Death in the hippocampus is promoted by plasmin-catalysed degradation of laminin. Cell: 91, 917-925).
An outline summarizing the time depending neurotoxic effect of t-PA is given in
Despite its neurotoxic side effect and its increasing effect on mortality, t-PA was approved by FDA. This can only be explained by the lack of harmless and effective alternatives. Therefore, there is still a need for safe therapies. However, if they were still based on thrombolytica, in case it is not possible to find alternatives to thrombolysis, the problem of neurotoxicity has to be considered (see for example Wang et al. a.a.O.; Lewandowski and Barson 2001 a.a.O.).
Further examination of known thrombolytica including DSPA (Desmodus rotundus Plasminogen Activator) as possible new drug candidates for stroke was terminated, even though principally all thrombolytica were potentially suitable. The potential suitability of DSPA for this medical indication was pointed out earlier (Medan P; Tatlisumak T; Takano K; Carano RAD; Hadley S J; Fisher M: Thrombolysis with recombinant Desmodus saliva plasminogen activator (rDSPA) in a rat embolic stroke model; in: Cerebrovasc Dis 1996:6; 175-194 (4th International Symposium on Thrombolic Therapy in Acute Ischaemic Stroke). DSPA is a plasminogen activator with a high homology (resemblance) to t-PA. Therefore—and in addition to the disillusionment resulting from the neurotoxic side effects of t-PA—there were no further expectations for DSPA being a suitable drug for stroke treatment.
Instead, recent strategies aiming to improve known thrombolytic treatments tried to apply the thrombolytic substance intraarterially, rather than intravenously via a catheter positioned close to the intravascular thrombus. The initial experiments were performed with recombinant produced urokinase. The hope was that the necessary dose for thrombolysis could be reduced and that the negative side effects could be reduced. However, this application requires a high technical expenditure and is not available everywhere. Furthermore, the patient has to be prepared in a time consuming action. Time, however, is often limited when treating for stroke. Thus, the additional preparation time adds an additional risk.
Presently, new concepts are directed to anticoagulants such as heparin, aspirin or ancrod, which is the active substance in the poison of the malayan pit viper. Two clinical trials examining the effects of heparin (International Stroke Trial (IST) and Trial of ORG 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment (TOAST)) however, did not indicate a significant improvement of mortality or a prevention of stroke.
A further new treatment did not focus on thrombus, blood thinning or anti coagulation, but instead attempted to increase the vitality of cells damaged by the interruption of blood supply (WO 01/51613 A1 and WO 01/51614 A1). To achieve this, antibiotics from the group of quinons, aminoglycosides or chloramphenicol were applied. In an alternative strategy, a research group administered citicholin immediately after the onset of stroke. In the body, citicholin is cleaved to cytidine and choline. The cleavage products form part of the neuronal cell membrane and thus support the regeneration of damaged tissue (U.S. Pat. No. 5,827,832).
Recent research on safe treatment is based on the new finding that a part of the fatal consequences of stroke is caused only indirectly by interrupted blood supply but directly to excito- or neurotoxicity, including over-activated glutamate receptors. This effect is increased by t-PA (see above). A strategy to reduce excitotoxicity would be, therefore, to administer neuroprotectives. Neuroprotectives can be used separately or in combination with fibrinolytic agents in order to minimize neurotoxic effects. They can lead to a reduced excitotoxicity either directly, e.g. as a glutamate receptor antagonist, or indirectly, e.g., by inhibiting voltage dependent sodium or calcium channels (Jin-Mo Lee et al. a.a.O.).
A competitive inhibition (antagonistic action).of the glutamate receptor of NMDA type can be achieved, e.g., with 2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (APV) or 2-amino-5-phosphonoheptanoate (APH). A non competitive inhibition can be achieved, e.g., by substances binding to the phencyclidine side of the channels. Such substances can be phencyclidine, MK-801, dextrorphane or cetamine.
So far, treatments with neuroprotectives have not shown the expected success, possibly because neuroprotectives had to be combined with thrombolytic agents in order to exhibit their protective effects. This also applies to other substances (see also
Even a combination of t-PA and neuroprotective agents results only in limited damage. Nevertheless, the disadvantageous neurotoxicity of the fibrinolytic agent as such is not avoided.
The present invention provides a new therapeutic treatment of stroke in humans.
According to the invention, a non-toxic plasminogen activating factor is administered for the therapeutic treatment of stroke.
The central idea of the invention is the use of a plasminogen activator in the treatment of stroke, of which the mature enzyme exhibits an activity, which can be selectively increased by fibrin manifold, such as by more than 650-fold.
The use of the plasminogen activators according to the invention is based on the finding that due to tissue damage in the brain caused by stroke, the blood brain barrier is damaged or destroyed. This damage to the blood brain barrier allows fibrinogen circulating in the blood to enter into the neuronal tissue of the brain. Once in the brain, it activates t-PA that indirectly activates the glutamate receptor or plasminogen, resulting in further tissue damage. In order to avoid this effect, the invention uses a plasminogen activator that is highly fibrin selective and has a reduced potential to be activated by fibrinogen. Thus, this plasminogen activator is not (or compared to t-PA at least is substantially less) activated by fibrinogen entering from the blood into neuronal tissue as a result of damaged blood brain barrier, since t-PAs activator fibrin cannot normally enter the neuronal tissue due to its size. The plasminogen activators according to the invention therefore are non-neurotoxic.
According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, non-toxic plasminogen activators are used, which comprise at least one element of the so called cymogene triade. A comparable triade is present in the catalytic center of serine proteases of the chymotrypsine family consisting of three interacting amino acids aspartate 194, histidine 40 and serine 32. However, this triade does not exist in t-PA which also belongs to the chymotrypsine family. Nevertheless, it is known, that the directed mutagenesis of native t-PA for the purpose of introducing at least one of the above amino acids at a suitable position results in a reduced activity of the pro-enzyme (single chain t-PA) and in an increased activity of the mature enzyme (double chain t-PA) in the presence of fibrin. Therefore, the introduction of at least one amino acid of the triade—or of an amino acid with the same function in the triade—can increase the cymogenity of t-PA (i.e. the ratio between the activity of the mature enzyme an the activity of the pro-enzyme). As a result the fibrin specificity of t-PA is remarkably increased. This is a result of the conformational interaction between the introduced amino acid residue and/or amino acid residues of the wild type sequence.
It is known that the mutagenesis of the native t-PA with substitution of Phe305 by His (F305H) and of Ala 292 by Ser (A292S) leads to a 20-fold increase of cymogenity, whereas the variant F305H alone already leads to 5-fold increase of r cymogentity (E L Madison, Kobe A, Gething M-J; Sambrook J F, Goldsmith E J 1993: Converting Tissue Plasminogen Activator to a Zymogen: A regulatory Triad of Asp-His-Ser; Science: 262, 419-421). In the presence of fibrin these t-PA mutants show an activity increase of 30.000 (F305H) and 130,000 (F305H, A292S) respectively. In addition these mutants comprise a substitution of Arg275 to R275E in order to prevent cleavage by plasmin at the cleavage site Aug275-Ile276, thereby converting the single chain t-PA into the double chain molecule. The mutant site R275E alone leads to a 6,900 fold increase of the fibrin specificity of t-PA (K Tachias, Madison E L 1995: Variants of Tissue-type Plasminogen Activator Which Display Substantially Enhanced Stimulation by Fibrin, in: Journal of Biological Chemistry 270, 31: 18319-18322).
The positions 305 and 292 of t-PA are homologous to the positions His40 and Ser32 of the known triade of chymotryptic serine proteases. A substitution introducing histidine and serine at the positions 305 and 292, these amino acids can interact with the aspartate 477 of t-PA resulting in a functional triade in the t-PA mutants (Madison et al., 1993).
These t-PA mutants can be used for the treatment of stroke according to the invention since they show no of—compared to wild type t-PA—a significantly reduced neurotoxicity due to their increased fibrin specificity. For the purpose of disclosure of the mentioned t-PA mutants F305H; F305H; A292S alone or in combination with R275E publications of Madison et al., (1993) and Tachias and Madison (1995) hereby are fully incorporated by reference.
The increase of fibrin specificity of plasminogen activators can alternatively be achieved by a point mutation of Asp194 (or an aspartate at a homologous position). Plasminogen activators belong to the group of serine proteases of the chymotrypsin family and therefore comprise the conserved amino acid Asp194, which is responsible for the stability of the catalytically active conformation of the mature proteases. It is known that Asp194 interacts with His40 in the cymogenic form of serine proteases. After the cymogene is activated by cleavage this specific interaction is interrupted and the side chain of the Asp194 rotates about 170° in order to form a new salt bridge with Ile16. This salt bridge essentially contributes to the stability of the oxyanione pocket of the catalytic center of the mature serine proteases. It is also present in t-PA.
The introduction of a point mutation replacing Asp194 prima facie impedes the formation or stability of the catalytic conformation of serine proteases. However, the mutated plasminogen activators show a significant increase of activity in the presence of their co-factor fibrin—especially in comparison to the mature wild type form. This can only be explained on the basis of the interaction with fibrin allowing a conformational change promoting catalytic activity (L Strandberg, Madison E L, 1995: Variants of Tissue-type Plasminogen Activator with Substantially Enhanced Response and Selectivity towards Fibrin co-factors, in: Journal of Biological Chemistry 270, 40: 2344-2349).
In conclusion, the Asp194 mutants of the plasminogen activators show a high increase of activity in presence of fibrin which allows their use according to the invention.
In a preferred embodiment according to the invention, a mutant t-PA is used, in which Asp194 is substituted by glutamate (D194E) or by asparagine (D194N). In these mutants the activity of t-PA is reduced 1 to 2000 fold in the absence of fibrin, whereas in the presence of fibrin, an increase of activity by a factor of 498,000 to 1,050,000 can be achieved. These mutants can further comprise a substitution of Arg15 to R15E, which prevents the cleavage of the single chain t-PA at the peptide bond Arg15-Ile16 by plasmin, leading to the double chain form of t-PA. This mutation alone increases the activation of t-PA by fibrin by the factor 12,000. For reasons of disclosure of the t-PA mutations at positions 194 and 15, the publications of Strandberg and Madison (1995) are fully incorporated by reference.
An increase of the fibrin dependency of plasminogen activators can also be achieved by the introduction of point mutations in the so called “autolysis loop”. This element is known from trypsine; it can also be found as a homologous region in serine proteases and is especially characterized by three hydrophobic amino acids (Leu, Pro and Phe). The autolysis loop in plasminogen activators is responsible for the interaction with plasminogen. Point mutations in this area can have the effect that the protein-protein interaction between plasminogen and plasminogen activators cannot be effectively formed any longer. These mutations are only functionally relevant in the absence of fibrin. In the presence of fibrin, they, in contrast, are responsible for an increased activity of the plasminogen activators (K Song-Hua, Tachias K, Lamba D, Bode W, Madison E L, 1997: Identification of a Hydrophobic exocite on Tissue Type Plasminogen Activator That Modulates Specificity for Plasminogen, in: Journal of Biological Chemistry 272; 3, 1811-1816).
In a preferred embodiment t-PA is used showing point mutations in the positions 420 to 423. If these residues are substituted by directed mutagenesis the fibrin dependency of t-PA is increased by a factor up to 61,000 (K Song-Hua et al.). Song-Hua et al. examined the point mutations L420A, L420E, S421G, S421E, P422A, P422G, P422E, F423A and F423E. These publications are fully incorporated by reference for disclosure of the use according to the invention.
According to a further advantageous embodiment a modified tissue plasminogen activator with an amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID No. 1 (
Furthermore, a modified urokinase can be used according to the invention. The urokinase according to the invention can comprise the amino acid sequence according to SEQ ID No. 2 (
Both mutants—urokinase as well as t-PA—were analyzed in semi quantitative tests and showed a increased fibrin specificity in comparison to the wild type t-PA.
The plasminogen activator (DSPA) from the saliva of the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) also shows a highly increased activity in the presence of fibrin—specifically a 100,000-fold increase. Thus it can be used as preferred embodiment of the invention. The term DSPA comprises four different proteases, which function to increase the duration of wound bleeding of pray (Cartwright, 1974). These four proteases (DSPAα1, DSPAα2, DSPAβ, DSPAγ) display a high similarity (homology) to each other and to the human t-PA. They also show similar physiological activities, leading to a common classification under the generic term DSPA. DSPA is disclosed in the patents EP 0 352 119 A1 and of U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,008,019 and 5 830,839 which are hereby fully incorporated by reference for purpose of disclosure.
DSPAα1 so far is the best analyzed protease of this group. It has an amino acid sequence with a homology greater than 72% in comparison to the known human t-PA amino acid sequence (Krätzschmar et al, 1991). However, there are two essential differences between t-PA and DSPA. Firstly all DSPA has full protease activity as a single chain molecule, since it is—in contrast to t-PA—not converted into a double chain form (Gardell et al., 1989; Krätzschmar et al., 1991). Secondly, the catalytic activity of DSPA is near to being completely dependent on fibrin (Gardell et al., 1989; Bringmann et al., 1995; Toschie et al., 1998). For example the activity of DSPAα1 is increased 100,000 fold in the presence of fibrin whereas the t-PA activity is only increased 550 fold. In contrast, fibrinogen induces DSPA activity considerably less showing only a 7 to 9 fold increase (Bringmann et al., 1995). In conclusion, DSPA is considerably more dependent of fibrin and much more fibrin specific as wild type t-PA which is only activated 55-fold by fibrin.
Owing to its fibrinolytic properties and the high similarity to t-PA, DSPA is an interesting candidate for the development of a thrombolytic agent. However, the therapeutic use of DSPA as a thrombolytic agent has been limited to the treatment of myocardinal infarction in the past. The reason for this limited application could be seen in role of t-PA in the glutamate induced neurotoxicity. No justified hopes existed, that a plasminogen activator which has a high similarity to t-PA could be used for a treatment of acute stroke with a reasonable hope of success.
Surprisingly it was shown that DSPA has no neurotoxic effects even though it shows a high resemblance (homology) to t-PA and even though the physiological effects of the molecules are comparable to those of t-PA to a large extent. The above unexpected findingled to the conclusion that DSPA after all may be successfully used as a thrombolytic agent for the therapy of stroke without causing severe risks of neuronal tissue damage. The fact, that DSPA can be used more than 3 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms makes it an extremely promising drug candidate.
A further teaching of the present invention that evolved from the above findings is the modification or production of further plasminogen activators in a way revealing the essential characteristics of DSPA, especially the lack of neurotoxicity. The basis for this teaching is the investigated relationship between structure and biochemical effects, making it possible to transform neurotoxic plasminogen activators into non-neurotoxic plasminogen activators and thereby to produce non-neurotoxic plasminogen activators on the basis of known or newly discovered neurotoxic plasminogen activators.
The new teaching is based on in vivo comparative studies of the neurodegenerative activity of t-PA and of DSPA which are performed by using the so called kainic acid model and a model for the examination of NMDA induced lesion of the striatum.
The kainic acid model (also kainic acid injury model) is based on the stimulation of the neurotoxic glutamate cascade by the external application of kainic acid (KA) as an agonist of the glutamate receptor of the kainic acid type (KA type) and of the NMDA and AMPA glutamate receptors. Using a t-PA deficient mouse stem as an experimental model it was possible to show that the sensitivity of the laboratory animals against kainic acid only reached the level of wild type mice after a supplementary application of external t-PA. In contrast, an infusion of an equimolar concentration of DSPA under the same experimental conditions does not restore the sensitivity to kainic acid (KA). It was concluded that the neurotoxic effect of t-PA was not induced by DSPA. A summary of these results is shown in table 2.
Quantitative examinations based on this model revealed that even a 10fold increase of the DSPA concentration could not restore the sensitivity of the t-PA deficient mice to the KA treatment whereas already a 10-fold lower t-PA concentration led to KA induced tissue damages. This leads to the conclusion that DSPA possesses an at least 100 fold lower neurotoxic potential as t-PA with respect to the stimulation of the neurodegeneration after KA treatment (see also
In the second model of neurodegeneration, the possible effects of t-PA as well as DSPA on the stimulation of the NMDA dependent neurodegeneration were compared to wild type mice. For this purpose, NMDA (as an agonist of the glutamate receptor of the NMDA type) was injected in wild type mice alone or in combination with either t-PA or DSPA. This model allows the comparison of the effects of these proteases under conditions, which always lead to a neurodegeneration and to an influx of plasma proteins due to the breakdown of the blood brain barrier (Chen et al., 1999).
While working on this model the injection of NMDA led to reproducible lesions in the striatum of mice. The volume of lesions was increased by a combined injection of t-PA and NMDA by at least 50%. The co-injection with DSPA1 in contrast did not lead to an increase or extension of the lesions caused by NMDA. Even in the presence of plasma proteins which can freely diffuse in the region of the lesion induced by NMDA, DSPA did not result in an increase neurodegeneration (see also table 3).
These results show that fibrin-free DSPA—in contrast to t-PA—behaves like an almost inert protease in the central nervous system of a mammal and also of a human—and therefore does not contribute to the neurotoxic effects caused by KA or NMDA. Despite of the prejudice against the therapeutic use of t-PA like proteins in stroke, this lacking neurotoxicity makes DSPA a suitable thrombolytic agent for the treatment of acute stroke.
First results of the clinical trials show the transferability of these results also for the treatment of stroke in humans. It was found that significant improvements can be achieved in patients after a successful perfusion (improvement by 8 points NIHSS or NIHSS score 0 to 1). Table 1 shows the data.
The lacking neurotoxicity of DSPA and of the other non-neurotoxic plasminogen activators (see above) offer the special advantage in stroke treatment that the use of these plasminogen activators—in contrast to the wild type t-PA—is not limited to a short maximum period of only 3 hours after the onset of stroke. In contrary, the treatment can be initiated later—for example after 6 hours or even later, since there is nearly no risk of stimulating excitotoxic responses. First clinical trials with DSPA prove a safe treatment of patients even in a time range of over 6 to 9 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.
This option of a timely unlimited treatment with non-neurotoxic activators is of special importance, since it allows for the first time to treat patients with acute stroke symptoms safely even when diagnosis is delayed or the onset of the stroke cannot be determined with sufficient security. In the prior art, this group of patients was excluded from thrombolytic therapy with plasminogen activators due to unfavorable risk estimation. Consequently, an essential contra-indication for the authorized use of a thrombolytic agent for stroke is eliminated.
DSPA as well as further non-neurotoxic plasminogen activators show no tissue damaging side effects. However, it can be advantageous to apply them in combination with a neuroprotective agent for the treatment of stroke in order to limit the tissue damages induced by the glutamate occurring naturally in the human body. Neuroprotective agents inhibiting the glutamate receptor competitively or non-competitively can be used. Useful combinations are e. g. with the known inhibitors of the glutamate receptors of the NMDA type, the kainic acid type or the quisqualate type, as for example APV, APH, phencyclidine, MK-801, dextrorphane or cetamine.
Further a combination with cations can be advantageous since cations, especially Zn-ions, block the cation channel regulated by the glutamate receptor and can therefore reduce neurotoxic effects.
In a further advantageous embodiment, non-neurotoxic plasminogen activators can be combined with at least one further therapeutic agent or with a pharmaceutically tolerable carrier. The combination with a therapeutic agent which supports the reduction of tissue damage by vitalizing the cells is especially advantageous, since it contributes to the regeneration of already damaged tissue or serves for the prevention of further stroke incidents. Advantageous examples are combinations with antibiotics as quinones, anticoagulants as heparin or hirudin as well as with citicholine or acetylsalicylic acid.
A combination with at least one thrombin inhibitor can also be advantageous. Preferentially, thrombomodulin and thrombomodulin analogs like for example solulin, triabin or pallidipin can be used. Further combinations with anti-inflammatory substances are advantageous, since they influence the infiltration by leucocytes.
Comparing Examinations of t-PA and DSPA are Methods:
Wild-type mice (c57/Black 6) and t-PA deficient mice (t-PA−/−mice) (c57/Black 6) (Carmeliet et al., 1994) were supplied by Dr. Peter Carneliet, Leuven, Belgium.
2. Protein Extraction from Brain Tissue
The assessment of proteolytic activity in brain tissue following infusion of either t-PA or DSPA1 was performed by zymographic analysis (Granelli-Piperno and Reich, 1974). After an infusion over a period of seven days into the hippocampus, mice were anaesthetised, then transcardially perfused with PBS and the brains removed. The hippocampus region was removed, transferred to eppendorf tubes and incubated in an equal volume (w/v) (approx. 30-50 μm) of 0.5% NP-40 lysis buffer containing no protease inhibitors (0.5% NP-40, 10 mM Tris-HCl pH 7,4, 10 mM NaCL, 3 mM MgCl2, 1 mM EDTA). The brain extracts were homogenized by means of a hand-held glass homogeniser and left on ice for 30 minutes. The samples were then centrifuged and the supernatant was removed. The amount of proteins present was determined (Bio-Rad-reagent).
3. Zymographic Analysis of the Proteases
The proteolytic activity in the samples and the brain tissue extracts was determined by zymographic analysis according to the method of Granelli, Piperno and Reich (1974). The samples with recombinant proteins (up to 100 nM) or the brain tissue extracts (20 μg) were subjected to a (10%) SDS-PAGE under non-reducing conditions. The gels were removed from the plates, washed in 1% triton X 100 for 2 hours and then overlaid onto an agarose gel containing polymerized fibrinogen and plasminogen (Granelli, Piperno and Reich, 1974). The gels were incubated at 37° C. in a humified chamber until proteolysed zones appeared.
4. Intra-Hippocampal Infusion of t-PA, DSPA and Subsequent Injection of Kainic Acid
The kainic acid injury model was based on studies of Tsirka et al. (1995). The animals were injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) with atropine (4 mg/kg) and then anaesthetised with an i.p. injection of sodium pentobarbitol (70 mg/kg). Afterwards mice were placed in a stereotaxic frame and a micro-osmotic pump (Alzet model 1007D, Alzet Calif. USA) containing 100 μl of either PBS or recombinant human t-PA (0.12 mg/ml, 1.85 μM) or DSPA1 (1.85 μM) was implanted subcutaneously between the shoulder blades. The pumps were connected via sterile tubes to a brain cannula and inserted through a burr opening made through the skull at coordinates bregma −2.5 mm, midiolateral 0.5 mm and dorsoventral 1.6 mm in order to introduce the liquid near the midline. The cannula was fixed at the desired position and the pumps were allowed to infuse the respective solutions at a rate of 0.5 μl per hour for a total of 7 days.
Two days after infusion of the proteases the mice were reanaesthetised and again placed in the stereotaxic frame. Afterwards 1.5 nmol of kainic acid (KA) in 0.3 μl PBS was injected unilaterally into the hippocampus. The coordinates were: bregma −2.5 mm, medial-lateral 1.7 mm and dorsoventral 1.6 mm. The excitotoxin (KA) was delivered for a duration of 30 seconds. After the kainic acid treatment the injection needle remained at these coordinates for further 2 minutes in order to prevent a reflux of the liquid.
5. Brain Processing Procedure
Five days after KA injection, the animals were anaesthetised and transcardially perfused with 30 ml PBS followed by 70 ml of a 4% paraformaldehyd solution, post fixed in the same fixative followed by incubation in 30% sucrose for further 24 hours. Coronal sections (40 μm) of the brain were then cut on a freezing microtome and either counter-stained with thionin (BDH, Australia) or processed for immunohistochemical examination as described below.
6. Quantification of Neuronal Loss within the Hippocampus
The quantification of neuronal loss in the CA1-CA3 hippocampal subfields was performed as previously described (Tsirka et al., 1995; Tsirka et al., 1996). Five consecutive parts of the dorsal hippocampus from all treatment groups were prepared taking care that the parts indeed comprised the place of the CA-injection and lesion area. The hippocampal subfields (CA1-CA3) of these sections were traced by means of camera lucida drawings of the hippocampus. The entire lengths of the subfields was measured by comparison to 1 mm standards traced under the same magnification. The lengths of tissue with viable pyramidal neurons (having normal morphology) and lengths of tissue devoid of neurons (no cells present, no thionin staining) was determined. The lengths, representing intact neurons and neuronal losses over each hippocampal subfield were averaged across sections and the standard deviations were determined.
7. Intra-Striatal NMDA Excitotoxic Lesions with or without t-PA or DSPA
Wild type mice (c57/Black 6) were anaesthetised and placed in a sterertaxic frame (see above). Mice then received an unilateral injection of 50 nmol NMDA in the left stratum, injected alone or in combination with either 46 μM rt-PA or 46 μM DSPA1. As controls t-PA and DSPA were also injected alone (both at a concentration of 46 μM). The injection coordinates were: bregma −0.4 mm, midiolateral 2.0 mm and dorsoventral 2.5 mm. The solutions (1 μl total volume for all treatments) were transferred over a period of 5 minutes at a rate of 0.2 μl/min and the needle was left in place for further 2 minutes after the injection in order to minimize the reflux of fluid. After 24 hours the mice were anaesthetised and perfused transcardially with 30 ml PBS followed by 70 ml of a 4% paraformaldehyd solution, post fixed in the same fixative for 24 hours with followed by incubation in 30% sucrose for further 24 hours. Brains were then cut (40 μm) on a freezing microtome and mounted onto gelatin coated glass slides.
8. Quantification of the Lesion Volume following NMDA Injection
The quantification of the striatal lesion volume was performed using the method described by Callaway et al. (2000). Ten consecutive coronal sections spanning the lesioned area were prepared. The lesioned area was visualised using the Callaway method and the lesion volume was quantified by the use of a micro computer imaging device (MCID, Imaging Research Inc., Brock University, Ontario, Canada).
Immunohistochemistry was performed using standard methodologies. Coronal sections were immersed in a solution of 3% H2O2 and 10% methanol for 5 minutes followed by an incubation in 5% normal goat serum for 60 minutes. The sections were incubated over night either with an anti-GFAP antibody (1:1.000; Dako, Carpinteria, Calif., USA) for the detection of astrocytes, with an anti-MAC-1 antibody (1:1.000; Serotec, Raleigh, N.C., USA) for the detection of microglia or with polyclonal anti-DSPA antibodies (Schering A G, Berlin). After rinsing, the sections were incubated with the appropriate biotinylated secondary antibodies (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, Calif., USA). This was followed by a final incubation with avidin/biotin-complex (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, Calif., USA) for 60 minutes before visualisation with 3,3′-diaminebebcidine/0.03% H2O2. Sections were then mounted on gelatin coated slides, dried, dehydrated and coverslipped with permount.
1. Infusion of t-PA or DSPA Disperses into the Hippocampus of t-PA−/−Mice and Retains Proteolytic Activity
The initial experiments were designed to confirm that both DSPA and t-PA retain their proteolytic activity for the 7 day period of the infusion. To this end, aliquots of t-PA and DSPA (100 nmol) were incubated at 37° C. and at 30° C. for 7 days in a water bath. In order to determine the proteolytic activity, 5 fold serial dilutions of the probes were subjected to SPS-PAGE under non-reducing conditions and proteolytic activity was assessed by zymographic analyses. An aliquot of t-PA and DSPA which had been kept frozen for a period of 7 days was used as a control. As can be seen in
2. t-PA and DSPA Activity is Recovered in Hippocampal Extracts Prepared from t-PA−/−Mice following Infusion
First it had to be confirmed that the infused proteases were present in the brain of the infused animals and also retained their proteolytic activity while being in this compartment. To address this point, t-PA−/− were infused for seven days with either t-PA or DSPA (see above). Mice were then transcardially perfused with PBS and the brains removed. The ipsilateral and contralateral hippocampal regions were isolated as well as a region of the cerebellum (taken as a negative control). Tissue samples (20 μg) were subjected to SDS-PAGE and zymographic analysis according to the description in the methods section. As can be seen in
3. Immunohistochemical Assessment of DSPA
To further confirm that DSPA had indeed diffused into the hippocampal region, coronal brain sections of t-PA−/−mice were analysed immunohistochemically after DSPA infusion. DSPA-antigen was detected in the hippocampal region with the most prominent staining in the area of the infusion site. This result confirms that the infused DSPA is soluble and is indeed present in the hippocampus.
4. DSPA Infusion Does Not Restore Kainic-Acid Mediated Neurodegeneration In Vivo
t-PA−/−mice are characteristically resistant to kainic acid (KA) mediated neurodegeneration. However, intrahippocampal infusion of rt-PA completely restores the sensitivity to KA-mediated injury. To determine whether DSPA could be substituted for t-PA in this model, t-PA−/−mice were infused intrahipocampically with either t-PA or DSPA using a mini-osmotic pump. For both groups 12 mice were tested. 2 days later the animals were injected with kainic acid and left to recover. 5 days later the animals were killed and the brains removed and prepared (see above). As controls, t-PA−/−mice were also infused with PBS prior to KA treatment (N=3).
Coronal brain sections were prepared and the neurons detected by Nissl staining. As shown in
A quantitation of those results was based on data obtained from 12 mice in each group. In 2 of the 12 mice infused with DSPA a small extend of neurodegeneration was observed. The reason for that in unclear and possibly not related to the presence of DSPA. The combined data consider this minor effect that was observed in the case of these 2 animals. All 12 mice treated with t-PA were sensitive against the KA treatment. These results show that in case of an infusion of t-PA or DSPA1 in equimolar concentrations only the administering of t-PA led to the restoration of sensitivity to KA induced neurodegeneration.
5. DSPA Infusion Does Not Result in Microglial Activation
The restauration of the KA sensitivity of the t-PA−/−mice caused by a t-PA infusion also results in a microglia activation (Rogove et al., 1999). To assess the degree of microglial activation following t-PA or DSPA infusion and subsequent KA treatment, coronal sections of mice were subjected to an immunohistochemical staining for activated microglia cells using the Mac-1 antibody. The restauration of KA sensitivity following t-PA infusion resulted in a clear increase in Mac-1 positive cells. This was not observed in mice infused with DSPA. Hence, the presence of DSPA does not result in the activation of microglia cells following KA treatment.
6. Titration of DSPA and t-PA in the Mice Hippocampus Region.
The concentration of t-PA used for the infusion was based on the concentration described by Tsirka et al. (1995) (100 μl of 0.12 mg/ml [1.85 μM]). The KA-injury experiments were repeated using a 10-fold lower of t-PA (0.185 μM) and a 10-fold higher amount of DSPA (18.51 μM). The lower t-PA concentration was still able to restore the sensitivity to KA treatment (n=3). Of special interest was the finding that the infusion of 10 fold increased DSPA concentration only caused a little neuronal loss following KA treatment. These data strongly point out that DSPA does not lead to an increase of sensitivity to KA.
7. Effect of t-PA and DSPA on NMDA-Dependent Neurodegeneration in Wild Type Mice
The effects of t-PA and DSPA were also examined in a model of neurodegeneration in wild type mice. The injection of t-PA in the striatum of these mice provably led to an increase of the neurodegenerative effects caused by the glutamate analogue NMDA (Nicole et al., 2001).
NMDA was injected into the striatal region of wild type mice in the presence of t-PA or DSPA (each 46 μM) with a total volume of 1 μl. After 24 hours the brains were removed and the size of the lesions was quantified according to the Callaway method (Callaway et al., 2000) (see above). As can be seen in
Injection of t-PA or DSPA alone did not lead to a detectable neurodegeneration. The lacking effect of t-PA when being administered alone is consistent with the results of Nicole et al. (2001). These data, show that the presence of DSPA does not increase neurodegeneration even during a neurodegenerative event.
In order to confirm that the injection of DSPA had indeed spread into the hippocampal region, immunohistocheimistry was performed on coronal sections by use of the DSPA antibody. The examination showed that DSPA did indeed enter the striatal region.
Kinetic Analysis of the Plasminogen Activation by Indirect Chromogen Test
Indirect chromogen tests of the t-PA activity were performed using the substrate Lys-plasminogen (American Diagnostica) and spectrocyme PL (American Diagnostica) according to Madisan E. L., Goldsmith E. J.; Gerard R. D., Gething M.-J., Sambrook J. F. (1989) Nature 339 721-724; Madison E. L. O., Goldsmith E. J., Gething M. J., Sambrook J. F. and Bassel-Duby R. S. (1990) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci U.S.A 87, 3530-3533 as well as Madison E. L., Goldsmith E. J., Gething M. J., Sambrook J. F. and Gerard R. D. (1990) J. Biol. Chem 265, 21423-21426. Tests were performed both in the presence and absence of the co-factor DESAFIB (American Diagnostica). DESAFIB is a preparation of soluble fibrin monomeres gained by the cleavage of highly pure human fibrinogen with the protease batroxobin. Batroxobin cleaves the Arg16-Gly17-binding in the A-chain of fibrinogen and thereby releases fibrinopeptid A. The resulting des-AA-fibrinogen representing fibrin I monomers is soluble in the absence of the peptide Gly-Pro-Arg-Pro. The concentration of Lys-plasminogen was varied from 0.0125 up to 0.2 μM in the presence of DESAFIB and from 0.9 to 16 μM in absence of the co-factor.
Indirect Chromogen Tests in the Presence of Different Stimuli.
Indirect chromogen standard tests were performed according to the publications cited above. Probes of 100 μl total volume containing 0.25-1 ng enzyme, 0.2 μM Lys-plasminogen and 0.62 mM spectrocyme PL were used. The tests were performed either in the presence of buffer, 25 μg/ml DESAFIB, 100 μg/ml cyanogen bromide fragments of fibrinogen (American Diagnostica) or 100μg/ml of the stimulatory 13 amino acid peptide P368. The analysis were performed in microtiter-plates and the optic density was determined at a wave length of 405 nm every 30 seconds for 1 hour in a “Molecular Devices Thermomax”. The reaction temperature was 37° C.
The complete disclosure of all patents, patent documents and publications cited herein are incorporated by reference as if individually incorporated. The foregoing detailed description and examples have been given for clarity of understanding only. No unnecessary limitations are to be understood therefrom. The invention is not limited to the exact details shown and described for variations obvious to one skilled in the art will be included within the invention defined by the claims.