, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 317-332
Date: 26 May 2006

Recombinant human alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor: towards therapeutic use

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Human alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor is a well-characterized protease inhibitor with a wide spectrum of anti-protease activity. Its major physiological role is inhibition of neutrophil elastase in the lungs, and its deficiency is associated with progressive ultimately fatal emphysema. Currently in the US, only plasma-derived human alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor is available for augmentation therapy, which appears to be insufficient to meet the anticipated clinical demand. Moreover, despite effective viral clearance steps in the manufacturing process, the potential risk of contamination with new and unknown pathogens still exists. In response, multiple efforts to develop recombinant versions of human alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor, as an alternative to the plasma-derived protein, have been reported. Over the last two decades, various systems have been used to express the human gene for alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor. This paper reviews the recombinant versions of human alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor produced in various hosts, considers current major safety and efficacy issues regarding recombinant glycoproteins as potential therapeutics, and the factors that are impeding progress in this area1.

1 The opinions expressed in this paper reflect the authors’ personal views, based on published data and the information available from the public domains, and have no relation to the official statements, if any, held by the US FDA, National Institutes of Health, or the US Department of Health and Human Services. FDA official recommendations for plasma protein therapeutics and recombinant proteins regarding safety, purity, and potency of new drugs and biologics produced by recombinant DNA technology are referred below as the US FDA Guidances.