(11)EP 3 074 022 B1


(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
30.03.2022 Bulletin 2022/13

(21)Application number: 14866058.2

(22)Date of filing:  25.11.2014
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A61K 38/17(2006.01)
A61P 19/02(2006.01)
A61P 9/10(2006.01)
A61P 7/02(2006.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
A61K 9/0019; A61K 47/02; A61K 38/1709; A61P 1/00; A61P 1/04; A61P 11/00; A61P 13/00; A61P 17/00; A61P 17/02; A61P 19/00; A61P 19/02; A61P 19/04; A61P 27/06; A61P 35/04; A61P 37/06; A61P 43/00; A61P 7/02; A61P 9/00; A61P 9/10; A61P 9/14
(86)International application number:
(87)International publication number:
WO 2015/081121 (04.06.2015 Gazette  2015/22)





(84)Designated Contracting States:

(30)Priority: 26.11.2013 US 201361908959 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
05.10.2016 Bulletin 2016/40

(73)Proprietor: Lubris LLC
Naples, FL 34102 (US)

  • JAY, Gregory, D.
    Norfolk, MA 02056 (US)
  • SCHMIDT, Tannin
    Calgary, AB T2N 1N4 (CA)
  • SULLIVAN, Benjamin
    San Diego, CA 92122 (US)

(74)Representative: CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP 
Cannon Place 78 Cannon Street
London EC4N 6AF
London EC4N 6AF (GB)

(56)References cited: : 
US-A1- 2008 139 458
US-A1- 2012 134 925
US-A1- 2009 068 247
US-A1- 2013 196 930
  • C. JIN ET AL: "Human Synovial Lubricin Expresses Sialyl Lewis x Determinant and Has L-selectin Ligand Activity", JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY, vol. 287, no. 43, 19 October 2012 (2012-10-19), pages 35922-35933, XP055345923, US ISSN: 0021-9258, DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M112.363119
  • FAREED JAWED ET AL: "Effect of Recombinant Lubricin on Coagulation Parameters in Human Blood", THE FASEB JOURNAL, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SOCIETIES FOR EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, US, vol. 29, no. suppl. 1, 1 April 2015 (2015-04-01), page 609.8, XP009194405, ISSN: 0892-6638
  • T. MUROHARA ET AL: "Polymorphonuclear leukocyte-induced vasocontraction and endothelial dysfunction. Role of selectins", ARTERIOSCLEROSIS, THROMBOSIS, AND VASCULAR BIOLOGY., vol. 14, no. 9, 1 September 1994 (1994-09-01), pages 1509-1519, XP055373167, US ISSN: 1079-5642, DOI: 10.1161/01.ATV.14.9.1509
  • THOMAS WEBSTER ET AL: "Lubricin as a novel nanostructured protein coating to reduce fibroblast density", INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NANOMEDICINE, vol. 9, 25 June 2014 (2014-06-25), pages 3131-3135, XP055365711, DOI: 10.2147/IJN.S56439
  • JIN ET AL.: 'Human Synovial Lubricin Expresses Sialyl Lewis x Determinant and Has L-selectin Ligand Activity.' J BIOL CHEM. vol. 287, no. 43, 19 October 2012, pages 35922 - 35933, XP055345923
  • MIDDLETON ET AL.: 'Endothelial cell phenotypes in the rheumatoid synovium: activated, angiogenic apoptotic and leaky.' ARTHRITIS RES THER vol. 6, 08 March 2004, pages 60 - 72, XP002382878
  • HAYWOOD ET AL.: 'Vasculature of the normal and arthritic synovial joint.' HISTOL HISTOPATHOL vol. 16, January 2001, pages 277 - 284, XP055345925
  • FLICK ET AL.: 'Fibrin(ogen) exacerbates inflammatory joint disease through a mechanism linked to the integrin M2 binding motif.' J CLIN INVEST. vol. 117, no. 11, 01 November 2007, pages 3224 - 3235, XP055345930
  • VUGMEYSTER ET AL.: 'Disposition of Human Recombinant Lubricin in Naive Rats and in a Rat Model of Post-traumatic Arthritis After Intra-articular or Intravenous Administration' AAPS J. vol. 14, no. 1, March 2012, pages 97 - 104, XP035719233
  • RAFFAGHELLO ET AL.: 'ln-and-out blood vessels: new insights into T cell reverse transmigration.' JOURNAL OF LEUKOCYTE BIOLOGY vol. 86, no. 6, December 2009, pages 1271 - 1273, XP008183335
  • RODGERS ET AL.: 'Reduction of epidural fibrosis in lumbar surgery with Oxiplex adhesion barriers of carboxymethylcellulose and polyethylene oxide.' THE SPINE JOURNAL vol. 3, no. 4, pages 277 - 283, XP055345943
  • None
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).



[0001] This invention relates to compositions and methods involving the use of PRG4 protein, also known as lubricin, to mechanically inhibit biological processes involving cell motility and adhesion. Uses include inhibiting the formation of fibroses in organs or tissues .


[0002] The proteoglycan 4 gene (PRG4) encodes megakaryocyte stimulating factor (MSF) as well as a highly glycosylated different splice variant and glycoforms of "superficial zone protein" also known as lubricin. Superficial zone protein was first localized at the surface of explant cartilage from the superficial zone and identified in conditioned medium. Lubricin was first isolated from synovial fluid and demonstrated lubricating ability in vitro similar to synovial fluid at a cartilage-glass interface and in a latex-glass interface. It was later identified as a product of synovial fibroblasts, and its lubricating ability was discovered to be dependent on O-linked β (1-3) Gal-GalNAc oligosaccharides within a large mucin like domain of 940 amino acids encoded by exon 6. Lubricin molecules are differentially glycosylated and several naturally occurring splice variants have been reported. They are collectively referred to herein as PRG4. PRG4 has been shown to be present inside the body at the surface of synovium, tendon, articular cartilage such as meniscus, and in the protective film of the eye, among other sites and plays an important role in joint lubrication and synovial homeostasis.

[0003] Applicants have determined that beyond its ability to lubricate joints, tendons and cartilage, and the surface of the eye, lubricin may be useful as a therapeutic to treat, prevent, or ameliorate a variety of conditions where the utility of lubricin had not previously been appreciated.


[0004] The invention is as set out in the claims.

[0005] It has now been discovered that full length lubricin, or PRG4, is present in small concentrations in serum, and can act as a mechanical blockade molecule to physically inhibit cellular binding involved in a number of pathologic biochemical processes. These include metastasis, plaque formation, and thrombus formation. PRG4 capably interrupts platelet and macrophage aggregation when added to a fibrin surface. While the mechanism of its effect has not yet been fully elucidated or deeply examined, the inventors hereof speculate that PRG4 binds to substrates normally bound by vitronectin. As such, PRG4 functions not only as a vitronectin binding inhibitor, but also as a protective coating which binds to exposed ECM and cell surfaces (polymorphonuclear granulocytes) with its heavily glycosylated central domain exposed, and acting as a surface lubricant and masking agent. In these embodiments, it functions as a glycocalyx, inhibiting native cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction.

[0006] Vitronectin is an abundant secreted glycoprotein found in serum and extracellular matrix. It binds to cell surfaces, heparin, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, and extracellular matrix (ECM), among other biomolecules, and promotes cell adhesion and motility. It has been speculated to be involved in hemostasis and tumor malignancy. It comprises three domains: an N-terminal somatomedin B domain, a central domain with hemopexin homology, and a C-terminal domain also with hemopexin homology.

[0007] The current invention uses applications of the PRG4 protein, appropriately glycosylated, preferably manufactured by expression of the PRG4 gene in a host cell such as Chinese hamster ovary, to mechanically interrupt binding, motility and aggregation of immune, neoplastic or cancer cells. Coatings of PRG4 on physiological surfaces accordingly interrupt a number of pathological processes, and PRG4 can therefore be used in a number of novel ways in therapeutic and prophylactic contexts.

[0008] In a further embodiment, the invention provides PRG4 for use in a method of treating, preventing or slowing the progress of fibrosis of an organ or tissue, the method comprising administering, preferably topically, to a patient suffering from or at risk of fibrosis PRG4 in a physiologically compatible vehicle directly or indirectly to the site at risk of fibrosis, whereby the PRG4 inhibits adherence of macrophages at the site, thereby preventing or slowing the progression of fibrosis.

[0009] In any of the embodiments of this invention the patient may be a human patient.



FIG. 1 is a cartoon depicting the interaction between endothelial cells in the vascular endothelial bed 101, the approximately 500 nm in depth, highly charged glycocalyx 102, and immune cells 103 traversing along the endothelium, sampling the surface as it rolls. When peripheral inflammation is present 104, whether acute, chronic or auto-immune, a cytokine gradient 105 signals certain endothelial cells to down regulate or cleave the protective glycocalyx 102, exposing surface receptors and hydrophobic binding sites, allowing immune cells to adhere, then extravasate, migrating as shown by arrow 106 down the gradient. The presence of a suitable, spontaneously adherent boundary lubricant 107, e.g., PRG4 or lubricin, provides an abhesive, i.e., anti-adhesive surface of exposed glycosylation and the immune cell is no longer able to adhere or activate. This thereby interrupts the flow of cells out of the vasculature (extravasation). The same fundamental mechanism applies when PRG4 is used in an extravascular compartment which has developed a solid tumor, but the PRG4 acts instead to inhibit shed tumor cells from the cancer from migrating out of the compartment, or across a vascular or tissue interface. In essence, lubricin acts as a mechanical barrier, preventing cell attachment and subsequent motility.

FIG. 2A shows pictures taken with a brightfield microscope of plates coated with fibrin and platelets (Panel 201-after 24 hours; Panel 202-after 48 hours) and plates coated with fibrin, platelets, and PRG4 (Panel 203-after 24 hours; Panel 204-after 48 hours). Dark spots represent non-adhered platelets.

FIG. 2B is a bar graph quantifying the effect of lubricin on platelet adhesion in the plates shown in FIG. 2A. As shown, the level of platelet recovery (i.e., non-adhered platelets) was dramatically higher from samples where lubricin was present.

FIGS. 3A-C show clotting of blood in CLOTMASTER Hula Cups of untreated blood (FIG. 3A), blood treated with phosphate buffered saline (PBS; FIG. 3B), and blood treated with recombinant human PRG4 (rhPRG4; FIG. 3C). While a clot formed in untreated blood and blood treated with PBS, blood treated with rhPRG4 resists clotting and flows freely in the bottom of the Hula Cup.

FIGS. 4A-B are line graphs presenting data showing the fibrokinetics of samples of normal human plasma (NHP; FIG. 4A) and pathological plasma (path plasma; FIG. 4B) pooled from liver disease patients as measured by optical density over time. In FIG. 4A, the plotted data curve lines are top to bottom 0 mg/mL lubricin (x), 50 mg/mL lubricin (▲), 100 mg/mL lubricin (■)and 200 mg/mL (

)lubricin. In FIG. 4B, the plotted data curve lines are top to bottom 50 mg/mL lubricin (A), 100 mg/mL lubricin (■), 0 mg/mL lubricin (x), and 200 mg/mL (


FIGS. 5A-B are bar graphs presenting data demonstrating the ability of PRG4 to interrupt macrophage adhesion to a fibrin surface under conditions similar to those described for the experiment in FIGS. 2A-B. Essentially no macrophages are able to bind to the fibrin surface when PRG4 is added to the plate, with cell recoveries near 100% at 24, 48 and 72 hours following exposure. This supports the hypothesis that PRG4 has a long-lasting and potent ability to interrupt interactions of cells and matrix. FIG. 5C provides cell count data recording the percentages of free macrophages recovered from a fibrin surface with and without PRG4. Because the effect is mechanical in nature, PRG4 protects the surface equally well against adhesion of a variety of other circulating cell types, including cancer cells.

FIG. 6 is the amino acid sequence of full length (non-truncated) human PRG4 (SEQ ID NO:1; 1404 residues). Residues 1-24 (shown in bold) represent the signal sequence and residues 25-1404 represent the mature sequence of human PRG4. The glycoprotein does not require the lead sequence in its active form.

FIG. 7 is the nucleic acid sequence for the PRG4 gene (SEQ ID NO:2) encoding the full length 1404 AA human PRG4 protein.


[0011] The function of PRG4 heretofore has been almost entirely associated with prevention of wear between articulating joints and lubrication of interfacing tissues such as in the between the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye. Use of a systemic boundary lubricant such as PRG4 protein for the purposes and uses described in the present invention to applicants' knowledge have not been previously suggested, possibly because the major component of the vascular endothelial glycocalyx (syndecans, glypicans, perlecans, versicans, decorin, biglycan, and mimecan, along with GAGs such as heparan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, dermatan sulfate, and hyaluronic acid reported in the literature (e.g., Weinbaum S, Tarbell JM, Damiano ER, Annu. Rev. Biomed. Eng. 2007. 9:121-67 & Pflugers Arch - Eur J Physiol (2007) 454:345-359)) do not include PRG4.

[0012] The functional importance of PRG4 in joint maintenance has been shown by mutations that cause the camptodactyly-arthropathy-coxa vara-pericarditis (CACP) disease syndrome in humans. CACP is manifest by camptodactyly, noninflammatory arthropathy, and hypertrophic synovitis, with coxa vara deformity, pericarditis, and pleural effusion. Also, in PRG4-null mice, cartilage deterioration and subsequent joint failure were observed. Therefore, PRG4 expression is a necessary component of healthy synovial joints.

[0013] Physicochemical modes of lubrication broadly have been classified as "fluid film" or boundary. In biological systems, the operative lubrication modes depend on the normal and tangential forces on the articulating tissues, on the relative rate of tangential motion between these surfaces, and on the time history of both loading and motion. The friction coefficient, µ, provides a quantitative measure, and is defined as the ratio of tangential friction force to the normal force. One type of fluid-mediated lubrication mode is hydrostatic. At the onset of loading and typically for a prolonged duration, interstitial fluid becomes pressurized, due to the biphasic nature of tissue; fluid may also be forced into the asperities between articular surfaces through a weeping mechanism. Pressurized interstitial fluid and trapped lubricant pools may therefore contribute significantly to the bearing of normal load with little resistance to shear force, facilitating a low µ. Also, at the onset of loading and/or motion, squeeze film, hydrodynamic, and elasto-hydrodynamic types of fluid film lubrication occur, with pressurization, motion, and deformation acting to drive viscous lubricant from and/or through the gap between two surfaces in relative motion.

[0014] In some instances, the relevant extent to which fluid pressure/film versus boundary lubrication occurs depends on a number of factors. When lubricant film can flow between the conforming sliding surfaces, which can deform elastically, elasto-hydrodynamic lubrication occurs. Pressure, surface roughness, and relative sliding velocity determine when full fluid lubrication begins to break down and the lubrication enters new regimes. As velocity decreases further, lubricant films adherent to the articulating surfaces begin to contribute and a mixed regime of lubrication occurs. If the velocity decreases even further and only an ultrathin lubricant layer composed of a few molecules remain, boundary lubrication occurs. In certain instances, the boundary mode of lubrication is therefore indicated by a friction coefficient during steady sliding being invariant with factors that influence formation of a fluid film, such as relative sliding velocity and axial load. For certain tissues in the body, such as articular cartilage, it has been concluded that boundary lubrication occurs, and is complemented by fluid pressurization and other mechanisms. In traditional boundary lubrication theory, increasing loading time and dissipation of hydrostatic pressure allows lubricant-coated surfaces to bear an increasingly higher portion of the load relative to pressurized fluid, and consequently, this mode can become increasingly dominant.

[0015] The inventors hereof have recognized that the velocity profile of blood and lymph flowing through the vasculature approximates the no-slip condition used in fluid mechanics to describe a radially dependent reduction in velocity and concurrent increase in blood pressure near the walls of a vessel to create the ideal conditions for boundary lubrication. It is also recognized that surface bound glycoproteins are largely responsible for the transmission of shear stress to the endothelial cells, and that mechanotransduction of that shear is necessary for proper regulation of cell morphology, nitric oxide (NO) production, cytoskeletal reorganization and hyaluronan content (Pflugers Arch - Eur J Physiol (2007) 454:345-359). In particular, areas of low shear, unstable and oscillatory flow are prone to atherosclerosis, impaired NO production and an increase in hyaluronidase. Similarly, improvement in shear transmission is associated with an increase in glycocalyx thickness and hyaluronan content. Laminar flows within normal tissue result in an approximately 400 nm glycocalyx thickness, while regions exposed to disturbed flow exhibited thinner coatings of less than 100 nanometers (van den Berg BM, et al. (2006) Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 290:H915-H920).

[0016] Accordingly, the present invention, among other aspects, contemplates the application of recombinant, exogenous surface binding lubricant PRG4, typically by introduction into the vasculature, to: 1) provide increased boundary lubrication (and steric masking of underlying receptors, integrins and selectins, etc.) between cells and cell interfaces to prevent or substantially reduce extravasation of cells between compartments (e.g., rolling, adhesion, transmigration / diapedesis); 2) bind to endogenous exposed endothelial cells to improve the transmission of shear to the underlying cells (e.g., improved mechanotransduction, improved nitric oxide production, improved production of endogenous glycocalyx); 3) extend the glycocalyx further into the lumen to smooth out the flow, reduce oscillations, instabilities, and improve laminar flow, and 4) replace, mask or compete with endogenous aberrant PRG4 so as to prevent binding to L-selectin on polymorphonuclear granulocytes.

[0017] As disclosed herein, PRG4 may provide boundary lubrication along the walls of the vasculature.

[0018] The methods and compositions may be used to develop a variety of specific therapies and compositions, often exploited through surgical procedures, where development of the pathology involves one or more of the following modes of action: 1) the passage of cells from one body compartment to another, 2) adherence of macrophages to exposed extracellular matrix or fibrin 3) binding of platelets to fibrin, or 4) failure of function of the glycocalyx on exposed epithelial cell surfaces, e.g., within the vasculature. In these instances PRG4 protein adheres to extracellular matrix or cell surfaces and presents a glycosylated surface of short polysaccharide chains which blocks the mechanisms of cell motility, extravasation, or intravasation, inhibits sticking of platelets, and/or serves as a substitute or mimic of native glycocalyx. As another example, PRG4 may be exploited to mechanically interrupt binding, motility and aggregation of immune cells, inhibit formation of intravascular thrombosis. Most generally, the invention achieves these effects through the direct or indirect application to tissue surfaces of exogenous PRG4 protein, which behaves in vivo as a boundary lubricant.

[0019] As used herein, "body compartment" or "physiological compartment" refers to any locality that is physically separated by a tissue from others and houses a tissue or system of interest. In the case of a solid tumor, the compartment is the tissue immediately surrounding the tumor boundary. In the case of a surgically applied incision, e.g., during minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, it would comprise the void left by the incision. In the case of closed-angle glaucoma surgery, the compartment is defined as the anterior chamber. In the case of preventing transplant rejection, the compartment would be the tissue surrounding the transplant. In the case of inhibiting restenosis, the compartment would be the inside of the vessels that receives the stent or other surgical insult.

The Active PRG4 Moiety

[0020] Lubricin is a lubricating polypeptide, which in humans is expressed from the megakaryocyte stimulating factor (MSF) gene, also known as PGR4 (see NCBI Accession Number AK131434 - U70136). Lubricin is a ubiquitous, endogenous glycoprotein that coats the articulating surfaces of the body [Jay GD 2004]. Lubricin is highly surface active molecule (e.g., holds onto water), that acts primarily as a potent cytoprotective, anti-adhesive and boundary lubricant. It is characterized by a long, central mucin-like domain located between terminal protein domains that allow the molecule to adhere and protect tissue surfaces. Its natural form, in all mammals investigated, contains multiple repeats of an amino acid sequence which is at least 50% identical to KEPAPTT. Natural lubricin typically comprises multiple redundant forms of this repeat, but typically includes proline and threonine residues, with at least one threonine being glycosylated in most repeats. The threonine anchored O-linked sugar side chains are critical for lubricin's boundary lubricating function. The side chain moiety typically is a β(1-3)Gal-GalNAc moiety, with the β(1-3)Gal-GalNAc typically capped with sialic acid or N-acetylneuraminic acid [Jay GD 2001]. The polypeptide also contains N-linked oligosaccharides. The gene encoding naturally-occurring full length lubricin contains 12 exons, and the naturally-occurring MSF gene product contains 1,404 amino acids with multiple polypeptide sequence homologies to vitronectin including hemopexin-like and somatomedin-like regions. Centrally-located exon 6 contains 940 residues. Exon 6 encodes the repeat rich, O-glycosylated mucin domain.

[0021] The amino acid sequence of the protein backbone of a lubricating polypeptide may differ depending on alternative splicing of exons of the human MSF gene. Because lubricin serves a fundamentally mechanical function, its fine tertiary structure is less critical than proteins such as cytokines or antibodies which depend on subtle stereochemistry which governs binding to receptors. This robustness against heterogeneity was exemplified when researchers created a recombinant form of lubricin missing 474 amino acids from the central mucin domain, yet still achieved reasonable, although muted, lubrication [Flannery CR 2009]. PRG4 has been shown to exist not only as a monomer but also as a dimer and multimer disulfide-bonded through the conserved cysteine-rich domains at both N- and C-termini [Schmidt TA 2009]. Lµbris, LLC has developed a full-length recombinant form of human lubricin. The molecule is expressed using the Selexis Chinese hamster ovary cell line (CHO-M), with a final apparent molecular weight of 450-600 kDa, with polydisperse multimers frequently measuring at 2,000 kDa or more, all as estimated by comparison to molecular weight standards on SDS tris-acetate 3-8% polyacrylamide gels. Of the total glycosylations, about half of the molecule contain two sugar units (GalNAc-Gal), and half three sugar units (GalNAc-Gal-Sialic acid.

[0022] Any one or more of various native and recombinant PRG4 proteins and isoforms may be utilized in the various embodiments described herein. For instance, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,433,142; 6,743,774; 6,960,562; 7,030,223, and 7,361,738 disclose how to make various forms of human PRG4 expression product, each of which is incorporated herein by reference. Preferred for use in the practice of the invention is full length, glycosylated, recombinant PRG4, or lubricin, expressed from CHO cells. This protein comprises 1404 amino acids (see FIG. 6; SEQ ID NO:1) including a central exon comprising repeats of the sequence KEPAPTT variously glycosylated with O-linked β (1-3) Gal-GalNAc oligosaccharides, and including N and C-terminal sequences with homology to vitronectin. The molecule is polydisperse with the glycosylation pattern of individual molecules varying, and can comprise monomeric, dimeric, and multimeric species.

[0023] As used herein, the term "PRG4" is used interchangeably with the term "lubricin." Broadly, these terms refer to any functional isolated or purified native or recombinant properly glycosylated PRG4 proteins, homologs, functional fragments, isoforms, and/or mutants thereof. All useful molecules comprise the sequence encoded by exon 6, or homologs or truncated versions thereof, for example, versions with fewer repeats within this central mucin-like KEPAPTT-repeat domain, together with O-linked glycosylation. All useful molecules also comprise at least the biological active portions of the sequences encoded by exons 1-5 and 7-12, i.e., sequences responsible for imparting to the molecule its affinity for ECM and endothelial surfaces. In certain embodiments, a preferred PRG4 protein has an average molar mass of between 50 kDa and 500kDa, preferably between 224 to 467kD, comprising one or more biological active portions of the PRG4 protein, or functional fragments, such as a lubricating fragment, or a homolog thereof. In a more preferred embodiment, a PRG4 protein comprises monomers of average molar mass of between 220 kDa to about 280 kDa.

[0024] Methods for isolation, purification, and recombinant expression of a PRG4 protein are well known in the art. The method starts with cloning and isolating mRNA and cDNA encoding PRG4 proteins or isoforms using standard molecular biology techniques, such as PCR or RT-PCR. The isolated cDNA encoding the PRG4 protein or isoform is then cloned into an expression vector, and expressed in a host cell for producing recombinant PRG4 protein, and isolated from the cell culture supernatant.

[0025] Particular forms of PGR4 constructs may readily be tested for their ability to inhibit chemotaxis and cell motility effectively ex vivo. A wide variety of qualitative and quantitative assay techniques are known which permit determination of whether cell motility is interrupted and to measure the intensity of the responses. See, for example, the seminal work of Boyden, The Chemotactic Effect Of Mixtures Of Antibody And Antigen On Polymorphonuclear Leucocytes, J Exp Med. 1962 February 28; 115(3): 453-466.

[0026] For use in the practice of the invention PRG4 may be formulated in a carrier, e.g., suspended in phosphate buffered saline, at concentrations ranging from 1 µg/mL to 10 mg/mL, and more preferably, 100-500 µg/mL. Depending on the specific use, PRG4 is administered parenterally e.g., by injection, daily, weekly, or monthly. It may be administered for systemic distribution through the vasculature, or locally within the vasculature during the course of vascular surgery such as balloon angioplasty and/or stent insertion. It may be injected into a body compartment, e.g., during endoscopic or open wound surgery. Its effect in each case is to bind to cellular or ECM surfaces resulting in inhibition of cell motility and chemotaxis. In yet other embodiments, PRG4 is combined with other components of a boundary lubrication system such as hyaluronic acid (HA), anti-coagulants such as heparin, GAGs such as chondroitin sulfate or heparan sulfate, or TIMPs (Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase), preferably TIMP1, TIMP2, TIMP3, or TIMP4.

[0027] Such PRG4 compositions may be used in the following ways to achieve the following effects.

Inhibition of Atherosclerosis

[0028] A variety of studies have revealed that atherosclerosis is found in regions of low shear stress within the arterial vasculature. In such locations, a reduction in endothelial nitric oxide synthase production, and concomitant upregulation of VCAM-1 adhesion factors leads to an increase in the adhesion of monocytes in atherosclerotic plaques. (Cheng C., et al. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2004;41:279-294). This increase may be traced to an accumulation of macrophages. PRG4 can inhibit and almost entirely prevent macrophage accumulation (FIGS. 5A-C), thereby interrupting the formation and growth of atherosclerotic plaques, and further to reducing the likelihood of plaque rupture.

[0029] PRG4 injected throughout the vasculature also binds up- and downstream from the plaque, where macrophages tend to accumulate, masking adhesion factors, reducing flow instabilities, preventing particle aggregation and therefore preventing further macrophage association through these factors in addition to its abhesive properties.

Mitigation of Restenosis and Thrombosis in Stent Surgery and Balloon Angioplasty

[0030] Restenosis is caused in part by low shear stress that tends to encourage macrophage accumulation. In turn, macrophages mediate dissolution of the elastic membrane, and eventually lead to neointimal hyperplasia, increased expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and decreased nitric oxide production. In contrast, higher shear stress reduces macrophage accumulation and elastic membrane proteolysis (Carlier SG, et al. Circulation 2003; 107:2741-2746).

Mitigation of Metastasis

[0031] In the first order approximation, metastatic tumor cells require functioning cell motility mechanisms to achieve migration and invasion. Cancer cell migration is similar to normal migration, although in a more random fashion. The metastatic cell extends filopodia or broad lamellipodia, which adhere to extracellular matrix or to adjacent cells through transmembrane receptors to the actin cytoskeleton, upon which the cell pulls itself in the direction of the adhered protrusion, or as described by Lauffenburger DA et al., motility requires morphological polarization, membrane extension, formation of cell-substratum attachments, contractile force and traction, and release of attachments (Lauffenburger DA, et al. Cell 1996; 84(3):359-369 and Hongyu Z, Crit Rev Eukaryot Gene Expr. 2010; 20(1): 1-16). Essentially, cancer cells crawl by extending adherent fingers and pulling themselves forward. While typically it is believed that only malignant tumors metastasize, it is now thought that non-malignant tumors may also be capable of metastasis. It is also recognized that tumors typically engage in extensive intravasation and extravasation, followed by growth and angiogenesis to repeat the process of metastasis.

[0032] A series of studies also suggest that there is a strong association between thrombosis and the progression of cancer, with some studies suggesting that hijacking of the coagulation system may be critical for the survival and spread of the tumor cells; in particular, fibrin and platelets seem to prevent clearing of tumor cells by natural killer cells (Palumbo JS, et al. Blood 2005; 105: 178-85, Bakewell SJ, et al. PNAS 2003;100:14205-14210, Lazo-Langer A, et al., Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 2007;5:729-737). Clinical studies have also demonstrated that fibrinogen deficient animal models reduced the incidence of spontaneous macroscopic metastases in the lung and regional lymph nodes, although primary tumor growth and angiogenesis were unaffected (Palumbo JS, et al., Cancer Res 2002;62:6966-6972). It has also been hypothesized that tumor cells may use local platelet-fibrin depositions to support sustained adhesions of tumor cells within high shear environments, and provide a means for cell proliferation (Palumbo JS, et al. Blood 2005; 105: 178-85).

[0033] Bone tissue is a common location for cancer metastasis. The primary tumor causing metastasis may be, for example, lung cancer, prostate cancer, or breast cancer. Lubricin may be administered to a patient as a pretreatment, for example to prevent or reduce the likelihood of bone metastasis when a non-bone primary tumor has been diagnosed in the patient. Lubricin may also be administered to a patient to prevent, treat, or alleviate bone metastasis in conjunction with administration of a chemotherapeutic agent or radiation treatment to treat a primary tumor or a metastatic cancer.

[0034] Lubricin may also be used to treat or prevent ovarian cancer metastasis. It is believed that ovarian cancer metastasizes by seeding tumor cells onto the mesothelial layer lining the peritoneum.

Prevention of Fibrosis

[0035] Fibrosis occurs when fibroblasts produce connective tissue, i.e., scar tissue, sometimes in excess, in an organ or tissue. Generally, fibrosis occurs as a result of the reparative process. When a tissue is injured, for example, through surgical means or other physical injury, macrophages are recruited to the site of the injury and, along with the damaged tissue, produce TGF-beta, which signals fibroblasts to produce connective tissue to close the wound. In some cases, fibrosis occurs in the absence of a surgical insult or physical injury to the tissue. For example, viral or bacterial infections or genetic abnormalities may lead to fibrosis. Many instances of fibrosis are idiopathic. Nonetheless, whether caused by physical injury or not, the invention provides that fibrosis may be alleviated, prevented or slowed through the use of PRG4. Essentially, PRG4 provides a mechanical barrier to prevent or limit macrophage accumulation at the site of tissue injury to prevent or limit fibrosis, or in the case of an organ or tissue that is already fibrotic, to limit or retard the progress of fibrosis by reducing or preventing the accumulation of further macrophages at the site.

[0036] According to one embodiment, the invention provides PRG4 for use in a method for preventing, alleviating or slowing fibrosis, the method comprising administering to a patient at risk of developing fibrosis or experiencing fibrosis in an organ or tissue an effective amount of PRG4 in a pharmaceutical carrier. The PRG4 may be administered to the patient directly or indirectly by injection. For example, the PRG4 may be administered systemically to the vasculature of the patient or it may be administered locally or topically to the site at risk of developing fibrosis or where fibrosis is present. The site of local administration may be an organ or tissue or the surface of the organ or tissue.

[0037] In some instances, as discussed above, fibrosis is not the result of a surgical or physical tissue injury, but rather is the result of another cause such as infection, underlying genetic abnormalities, or idiopathic. Some examples of fibrosis that are not necessarily caused by surgical insults, include cirrhosis of the liver, pulmonary fibrosis, cardial fibrosis, mediastinal fibrosis, arthrofibrosis, myelofibrosis, nephogenic systemic fibrosis, scelorderma fibrosis, renal fibrosis, lymphatic tissue fibrosis, arterial, capillary, and vascular fibrosis, and pancreatic fibrosis.

Mitigation of Transplant Rejection

[0038] Traditional immunosuppressive therapy, e.g., corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, mTOR inhibitors, and anti-proliferatives following tissue transplant surgery carries a variety of unfortunate side effects. PRG4 coated surfaces prevent cellular and humoral immune cells from binding to and recognizing the transplant, but allows the immune system to function normally in the rest of the body. According to the invention, the method may be used to treat transplanted heart, liver, kidney, lung, skin or tendon or any other transplanted organ or tissue.

Inhibition of Thrombosis

[0039] PRG4 may be useful for inhibiting formation of intravascular thrombosis which may obstruct blood vessels, resulting in such events as stroke, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, or blockage of blood vessels to other parts of the body.

[0040] To demonstrate the anti-thrombotic effect of PRG4, the ability of PRG4 to interrupt platelet adhesion to a fibrin surface was tested. The results are shown in FIGS. 2A-B.

[0041] Plastic cell culture dishes were coated with 10 µL of thrombin at 50 U/mL and 120 µL fibrinogen at 270 mg/mL, suspended in 10 mL of water, and incubated for 3 hours at 37°C. After 3 hours, dishes were rinsed with autoclaved deionized water. Next, 10 µL of PRG4 at 1.42 mg/mL in 10 mL of water were added to the dish shown in panel 203 and 204 and incubated at 37°C for 2 hours. Following the incubation, dishes were washed again with autoclaved deionized water and 6 ×105 platelets in sterile PBS were added to each dish, mixed and incubated at room temperature.

[0042] Panel 201 shows a fibrin only dish at 24 hours, while panel 202 shows fibrin only dish at 48 hours; note that in both fibrin-only panels, there are few non-adhered platelets observable in the bulk solution (e.g., the small dark circles). Panel 203 shows a PRG4 and fibrin dish at 24 hours, while panel 204 shows PRG4 and fibrin dish at 48 hours, which have a significantly higher number of non-adhered platelets.

[0043] The effect of PRG4 on platelet adhesion (quantifying the recovery of cells as a percentage of the original sample) is shown in FIG. 2B. As illustrated, the exceptional recovery of platelets from PRG4 coated dishes indicates PRG4's ability to prevent platelets from binding to the fibrin surface.

[0044] In a second experiment, PRG4's ability to inhibit thrombogenesis was observed in vitro by testing clot formation in the presence and absence of PRG4. Three samples of 30 mL of whole blood were obtained via venipuncture and placed in CLOTMASTERHula Cups (Pierce Surgical Corp. Stowe, VT) with a sintered glass core. To one sample 1.5 mL of phosphate buffered saline (PBS) was added as a negative control to show the result when no anticoagulant effect is expected; to the second sample 1.5 mL rhPRG4 080 at a concentration of 1 mg/mL was added. The third sample was used as a control and was untreated. Each sample was swirled for 60 seconds; swirling stopped and the containers remained static for 9 minutes to promote clot formation. Clot quality was then assessed and clots were decanted and placed in formalin. The results are shown in FIGS. 3 A-C where the photographs show that in the control clot formation was observed as can be seen on the sintered glass core and in the bottom of the cup as a viscous mass (FIG. 3A). For the PBS sample, clot formation occurred as is evidenced by the viscous mass in the bottom of the cup (FIG. 3B). In contrast, no clot formation was observed in the presence of as the blood is still fluid and flowed to one side of the cup when tipped (FIG. 3C). This data strongly demonstrates the anti-thrombotic properties of PRG4.

[0045] In a third experiment, the effect of PRG4 on the fibrokinetic profile of normal and pathological plasma was tested. Normal human plasma ("NHP") was supplemented with lubricin (2mg/mL) at a 1:10 dilution. Subsequent 1:2 and 1:4 dilutions were made in normal human plasma. Pooled plasma from liver disease patients ("Path plasma") was also supplemented with lubricin (2mg/mL) at a 1:10 dilution. Subsequent 1:2 and 1:4 dilutions were made in pooled liver disease plasma. The formation of a fibrin clot was tested by reading optical density at 405nm for 30 minutes at 15 second intervals on 200 µL plasma samples of each dilution mixed with 25 µL CaCl2 (0.25mM) and 25 µL thrombin (5U/mL). Samples with no added lubricin (0 mg/mL) were used as controls. As shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B, lubricin at a concentration of 200µg/mL decreased optical density in both normal human plasma and pathologic plasmas which indicates that the rate of fibrin (clot) formation was decreased in each sample (see bottom data line in each of FIG. 4A and 4B). These experiments suggests that lubricin interferes with fibrin clot formation. Accordingly, this data suggests that lubricin has antithrombotic properties.

[0046] The anti-thrombotic properties of PRG4 make it useful as an anticoagulant. For example, PRG4 may be used in diagnostic applications as an anticoagulant.

Administration of Lubricin

[0047] Generally, a therapeutically effective amount of lubricin for administration systemically is in the range of 0.1 mg/kg to 100 mg/kg, or 1 mg/kg to 100 mg/kg, or 1 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg. In one embodiment, the dose of lubricin is between0.25 mg/kg and 2.5 mg/kg or is between 0.25 and 3.0 mg/kg. The amount administered will depend on variables such as the type and extent of the condition to be treated, the overall health of the patient, the pharmaceutical formulation, and the route of administration. The initial dosage can be increased beyond the upper level in order to rapidly achieve the desired blood-level or tissue level. Alternatively, the initial dosage can be smaller than the optimum, and the dosage may be progressively increased during the course of treatment. The optimal dose can be determined by routine experimentation. For parenteral administration a dose between 0.1 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg, alternatively between 0.5 mg/kg and 50 mg/kg, alternatively, between 1 mg/kg and 25 mg/kg, alternatively between 2 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg, alternatively between 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg is administered and may be given, for example, once weekly, once every other week, once every third week, or once monthly per treatment cycle.

[0048] For administration, lubricin is preferably combined with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. As used herein, "pharmaceutically acceptable carrier" means buffers, carriers, and excipients suitable for use in contact with the tissues of human beings and animals without excessive toxicity, irritation, allergic response, or other problem or complication, commensurate with a reasonable benefit/risk ratio. The carrier(s) should be "acceptable" in the sense of being compatible with the other ingredients of the formulations and not deleterious to the recipient. Pharmaceutically acceptable carriers include buffers, solvents, dispersion media, coatings, isotonic and absorption delaying agents, and the like, that are compatible with pharmaceutical administration. The use of such media and agents for pharmaceutically active substances is known in the art. Useful formulations can be prepared by methods well known in the pharmaceutical art. For example, see Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, 18th ed. (Mack Publishing Company, 1990). Formulation components suitable for parenteral administration include a sterile diluent such as water for injection, saline solution, fixed oils, polyethylene glycols, glycerine, propylene glycol or other synthetic solvents; antibacterial agents such as benzyl alcohol or methyl paraben; antioxidants such as ascorbic acid or sodium bisulfite; chelating agents such as EDTA; buffers such as acetates, citrates or phosphates; and agents for the adjustment of tonicity such as sodium chloride or dextrose.

[0049] Lubricin for administration can be presented in a dosage unit form and can be prepared by any suitable method and should be formulated to be compatible with its intended route of administration. Examples of routes of administration are oral, intravenous (IV), intradermal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, inhalation, transdermal, topical, transmucosal, rectal administration, parenteral, intranasal, topical, oral, or local administration, such as by a transdermal means, for therapeutic treatment. Additional routes of administration include intravascular, intra-arterial, intratumor, intraperitoneal, intraventricular, intraepidural, as well as nasal, ophthalmic, intrascleral, intraorbital, rectal, topical, or aerosol inhalation administration.

[0050] For intravenous administration, suitable carriers include physiological saline, bacteriostatic water, Cremophor ELTM (BASF, Parsippany, NJ) or phosphate buffered saline (PBS). The carrier should be stable under the conditions of manufacture and storage, and should be preserved against microorganisms. The carrier can be a solvent or dispersion medium containing, for example, water, ethanol, polyol (for example, glycerol, propylene glycol, and liquid polyethylene glycol), and suitable mixtures thereof.

[0051] While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described herein, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes, and substitutions will now occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. It should be understood that various alternatives to the embodiments of the invention described herein may be employed in practicing the invention. It is intended that the following claims define the scope of the invention.

[0052] Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiments thereof and from the claims. These and many other variations and embodiments of the invention will be apparent to one of skill in the art upon a review of the description and examples.


1. Proteoglycan 4 (PRG4) for use in treating, preventing, or slowing the progression of fibrosis of an organ or tissue in a patient suffering from or at risk of fibrosis in the organ or tissue, wherein the organ or tissue is affected by cirrhosis of the liver, pulmonary fibrosis, cardiac fibrosis, mediastinal fibrosis, arthrofibrosis, myelofibrosis, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, scleroderma fibrosis, renal fibrosis, lymphatic tissue fibrosis, arterial fibrosis, capillary fibrosis, vascular fibrosis, or pancreatic fibrosis.
2. PRG4 for the use of claim 1, wherein the PRG4 is provided to the patient in a dose of between 0.25 mg/kg and 3.0 mg/kg.
3. PRG4 for the use of claim 1 or 2, wherein the PRG4 is provided by injection, optionally by systemic intravenous injection or local injection to the organ or tissue.
4. PRG4 for the use of claim 1 or 2, wherein the PRG4 is provided topically to the organ or tissue.
5. PRG4 for the use of any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the PRG4 is recombinant human PRG4.
6. PRG4 for the use of any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the PRG4 comprises the amino acid sequence of residues 25-1404 of SEQ ID NO:1.


1. Proteoglykan 4 (PRG4) zur Verwendung bei der Behandlung, Vorbeugung oder Verlangsamung des Fortschreitens der Fibrose eines Organs oder Gewebes bei einem Patienten, der an einer Fibrose des Organs oder Gewebes leidet oder von einer Fibrose bedroht ist, wobei das Organ oder Gewebe von Leberzirrhose, Lungenfibrose, Herzfibrose, Mediastinalfibrose, Arthrofibrose, Myelofibrose, nephrogener systemischer Fibrose, Sklerodermiefibrose, Nierenfibrose, lymphatischer Gewebefibrose, Arterienfibrose, Kapillarfibrose, Gefäßfibrose oder Pankreasfibrose betroffen ist.
2. PRG4 zur Verwendung nach Anspruch 1, wobei das PRG4 dem Patienten in einer Dosis zwischen 0,25 mg/kg und 3,0 mg/kg verabreicht wird.
3. PRG4 zur Verwendung nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei das PRG4 durch Injektion, optional durch systemische intravenöse Injektion oder lokale Injektion, in das Organ oder Gewebe bereitgestellt wird.
4. PRG4 zur Verwendung nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei das PRG4 dem Organ oder Gewebe topisch zugeführt wird.
5. PRG4 zur Verwendung nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei das PRG4 rekombinantes menschliches PRG4 ist.
6. PRG4 zur Verwendung nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5, wobei das PRG4 die Aminosäuresequenz der Reste 25-1404 von SEQ ID NO: 1 umfasst.


1. Protéoglycane 4 (PRG4) destiné à être utilisé dans le traitement, la prévention ou le ralentissement de la progression de la fibrose d'un organe ou d'un tissu chez un patient souffrant ou à risque de fibrose dans l'organe ou le tissu, dans lequel l'organe ou le tissu est affecté par la cirrhose du foie, la fibrose pulmonaire, la fibrose cardiaque, la fibrose médiastinale, l'arthrofibrose, la myélofibrose, la fibrose systémique néphrogénique, la fibrose sclérodermique, la fibrose rénale, la fibrose des tissus lymphatiques, la fibrose artérielle, la fibrose capillaire, la fibrose vasculaire ou la fibrose pancréatique.
2. PRG4 destiné à être utilisé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le PRG4 est administré au patient à une dose comprise entre 0,25 mg/kg et 3,0 mg/kg.
3. PRG4 destiné à être utilisé selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel le PRG4 est administré par injection, éventuellement par injection intraveineuse systémique ou injection locale dans l'organe ou le tissu.
4. PRG4 destiné à être utilisé selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel le PRG4 est administré localement dans l'organe ou le tissu.
5. PRG4 destiné à être utilisé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel le PRG4 est le PRG4 humain recombinant.
6. PRG4 destiné à être utilisé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5, dans lequel le PRG4 comprend la séquence d'acides aminés des résidus 25-1404 de SEQ ID NO:1.


Cited references


This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description

Non-patent literature cited in the description