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1. WO2015114575 - TOLEROGENIC COMPOSITIONS COMPRISING AND USES THEREOF

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TOLEROGENIC COMPOSITIONS COMPRISING AND USES THEREOF

Field of the invention

The present invention relates to prevention or treatment of allergic disorders, in particular asthma and food allergy and in particular to compositions useful for the prevention of hypersensitivity to allergens, in particular asthma disorders and/or the desensitization to allergens.

Background of the Invention

The prevalence of allergic asthma and allergic diseases has reached epidemic proportions in both adult and pediatric, developed and developing populations {Eder et al, 2006, N. Engl. J. Med. 355:2226-2235). The lack of early childhood infections or microbial exposure due to improved sanitation, and the gradual loss of the indigenous microbiota have alternately been proposed to account for this major public health trend (Blaser, 2009, Nat. Rev. Microbiol, 7:887-894). In 201 1, 235-300 million people globally have been diagnosed with asthma, and it caused 250,000 deaths

Asthma is now the most prevalent chronic disease in childhood in developed countries; approximately 300 million people suffer from this disease worldwide. Asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The Global Initiative of Asthma defines asthma as a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. Chronic pulmonary inflammation is associated with airway hyper-responsiveness, which leads to the classical symptoms of asthma: recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. The most common clinical phenotype is allergic asthma. In childhood, more than 90 % of patients with severe asthma are allergic; among asthmatic adults, 60 % are sensitized to common aero-allergens (Holgate et al., 2003, Eur. Respir. J. 2003; 22:470-477). In allergic asthma, inflammation and airway obstruction are triggered by allergen exposure in atopic individuals. The pathophysiology underlying the disease is rather complex. The inflammatory processes underlying the development of allergic airway disease have been investigated in humans and also in animal models of the disease. The understanding of the different cell types and mediators involved in asthma development has increased in the last decade. Indeed, findings support an important role of Th2 cells and Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13) in the

development of allergen-induced inflammation and airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR).

The state-of-the-art immunomodulatory treatment of acute symptoms of asthma involves inhaled or oral corticosteroids. Asthma patients generally respond to β2-adrenergic receptor agonists (such as salbutamol) and leukotrienes, which relax smooth muscle cells. In very severe cases, intravenous administration of corticosteroids or immunomodulatory drugs such as neutralizing antibodies to interleukins and hospitalization may be required. Anti-IL-13, anti-IL-5 and anti-IL-9 monoclonal antibodies are all currently in clinical trials for asthma.

Helicobacter pylori is a persistent bacterial pathogen colonizing the gastric mucosa of humans. It is typically acquired in early childhood and, in the absence of antibiotic therapy, may persist for the entire life span of the host. The extraordinary ability of H. pylori to resist a vigorous adaptive immune response driven in large part by Thl and/or Thl7-polarized effector T-cells has been attributed to its adaptation to -and manipulation of- the human innate and adaptive immune systems. H. pylori has colonized its human host for at least 60.000 years and during this long period of co-evolution has evolved elaborate ways to systemically manipulate adaptive immune responses and to promote its persistence through the preferential induction of regulatory T-cell (Treg) over immunogenic T-cell response through T-effector cell responses. Treg-predominant responses are characteristic of heavily colonized, but asymptomatic carriers.

It has been shown that experimental live H. pylori infection, especially when initiated during the neonatal period, protects effectively against allergen-induced asthma that is induced by allergen sensitization and challenge {Arnold et al, 2011, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 121:3088-3093). Mechanistically, asthma protection is due to the development of (Treg-mediated) immune tolerance to H. pylori, which cross-protects against allergen-specific Th2 responses. The protective effects of live H. pylori are abrogated by antibiotic eradication therapy clearing the bacteria {Arnold et al, 2011, supra). Similarly, the induction of protective Tregs required live bacteria in vivo and could not be achieved by dead extract.

Aside from Tregs, dendritic cells (DCs) have emerged as a critical cell type required for immune tolerance. H. /y/orz'-experienced DCs are re-programmed to towards a tolerance-promoting phenotype in vitro and in vivo {Oertli et al, 2013, PNAS, 110(8), 3047-3052). It has been observed that DC re-programming requires two H. pylori-secreted proteins (virulence determinants or factors), the vacuolating cytotoxin (VacA) and the γ-glutamyl-transpeptidase (GGT) {Oertli et al, 2013, supra) since H. pylori mutants that lack one of the two virulence factors (but are otherwise wild type), fail to re-program DCs in vivo and in vitro, and therefore cannot induce Tregs with suppressive activity in mice {Oertli et al, 2013, supra). As a consequence, both H. pylori mutant strains are cleared effectively by the mice {Oertli et al, 2013, supra). Furthermore, both GGT and VacA have been used or reported to be used to trigger vaccine-induced protective immunity to H. pylori, i.e. with the opposite goal (strong T effector rather than Treg responses) of the present aim of the invention {Malfertheiner et al, 2008, Gastroenterology 135(3) :787-95).

The use of live H. pylori as a therapeutic intervention or preventive measure has been unattractive due to the well-documented carcinogenic potential of chronic infection with this organism since H. pylori induces gastric and duodenal ulcers (Marshall et al, 1984, Lancet 1:1311-1315), and is also widely accepted to be the leading cause of gastric adenocarcinoma {Parsonnet et al, 1991, N. Engl. J. Med, 325: 1127-1131). Further, it is important to note that those vaccination strategies using H. pylori are aiming at inducing an immune response that would protect the subject from H. pylori infection and counter-acting the ability of H. pylori to avoid or by-pass the immune system response.

Since all the current treatments of asthma induce more or less severe side effects, alternative treatment strategies are desperately needed. Therefore, there are important needs for new strategies of prevention or asthma development, particularly for children and young people that present a predisposition towards developing hypersensitivity reactions and for treatment of asthma causes and symptoms.

Summary of the invention

The present invention relates to the unexpected finding that oral, intranasal or intraperitoneal (i.e. systemic) administration of a composition comprising H. pylori VacA (administered either in the form of a dead cell extract such as prepared by mechanic disruption of logarithmically growing H. pylori using a French pressure cell «French press » or in the form of purified or recombinant protein), when administered in regular intervals, is able to induce protection against allergen-induced asthma. Although the presence of this virulence determinant or factor was earlier found to be required for persistence and Treg induction, it was in combination with the virulence determinant GGT and in the context of live bacteria and it could not be anticipated that it would have been alone sufficient for asthma protection. Further, the fact that VacA has successfully been included in preclinical and phase 1 human trials of H. pylori-specific vaccination argues that it is immunogenic (at least in combination with a suitable adjuvant) and triggers either T-cell and/or antibody mediated immunity. Since strong immunogenicity and strong immunomodulatory properties, as required for the suppression of allergen-specific immune responses, are usually mutually exclusive and not typically found in the same protein, the tolerogenic properties of compositions according to the invention are particularly surprising. The present invention further relates to the unexpected finding that it is possible to induce a peripheral tolerance avoiding an immune response to H. pylori infection through the use of VacA and thereby achieving a rather non-specific form of tolerogenic immunomodulation.

A first aspect of the invention provides a polypeptide selected from a Vac A protein, a fragment or a variant thereof or a formulation thereof for use in the prevention and/or treatment of an allergic disorder, in particular allergen-induced or atopic asthma.

A second aspect of the invention relates to a polypeptide selected from a Vac A protein, a fragment or a variant thereof for inducing a tolerization response to an allergen.

A third aspect of the invention relates a use of a polypeptide selected from Vac A protein, a fragment or a variant thereof for the preparation of a medicament for prevention and/or treatment of an allergic disorder, in particular atopic asthma and/or inducing a tolerization response to an allergen.

A fourth aspect according to the invention relates to a pharmaceutical formulation comprising a Vac A protein a fragment or a variant thereof and at least one pharmaceutically acceptable carrier, diluent or excipient thereof.

A fifth aspect of the invention relates to a method of inducing a tolerization response to an allergen in a subject, said method comprising administering in a subject in need thereof an effective amount a polypeptide selected from a Vac A protein, a fragment or a variant thereof, or a pharmaceutical formulation thereof.

A sixth aspect of the invention relates to a method of preventing, repressing or treating an allergic response, in particular, an allergic disorder in a subject, said method comprising administering in a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount a polypeptide selected from a Vac A, a fragment or a variant thereof, or a pharmaceutical formulation thereof.

A seventh aspect of the invention relates to a pharmaceutical formulation comprising a polypeptide selected from a Vac A protein, a fragment or a variant thereof, combined with at least one co-agent useful in the prevention and/or treatment of an allergic disorder, in particular atopic asthma and/or for inducing a tolerization response to an allergen, and at least one pharmaceutically acceptable carrier, diluent or excipient thereof.

An eighth aspect of the invention relates to a Vac A protein, a fragment or a variant thereof or a pharmaceutical formulation thereof for the prevention and/or treatment of an allergic disorder, in particular asthma and/or for inducing a tolerization response to an allergen.

Description of the figures

Figure 1 shows the alleviation of experimentally induced asthma by treatment with a composition according to the invention as described in Example 1, for the group subjected to H. pylori extract (-A-) as compared to positive controls (sensitized mice but no treatment) (-■-) and negative controls (mock-sensitized mice) (-·-). A, B: Airway hyper-responsiveness in response (change in % from baseline levels, which are individually determined for every mouse) to increasing doses of metacholine ([C] in mg/ml) and the highest dose of 100 mg/ml, respectively; C, D: Total cells and eosinophils contained in 1 ml of BALF; E-G: Tissue inflammation and goblet cell metaplasia as scored by two blinded experimenters on H&E and PAS-stained tissue

sections; representative micrographs taken at lOOx (H&E) and 400x (PAS) original magnification are shown in G. Pooled data from 5 independent studies are shown in A-F; H, I: IL-5 and IL-13 secretion by single cell lung preparations restimulated with ovalbumin, as assessed by ELISA as described in Example 1. Pooled data from two studies are shown.

Figure 2 shows that IL-10 signalling is required for dead cell extract-induced protection against asthma. A, B: IL-10 secretion by murine bone-marrow-derived DCs and human monocyte-derived DCs from six healthy volunteers after exposure to the indicated amounts of H. pylori dead cell extract ([C]) of the invention as described in Example 2. A: one representative experiment of three; B: pooled data for all six donors is shown in B. C-F: Mice treated as described in Figure 1; the indicated groups received 3 doses of anti-IL-lOR antibody during the challenge phase of the protocol as described in Example 2; C, D: Total cells and eosinophils contained in 1 ml of BALF; E, F: Tissue inflammation and goblet cell metaplasia. In scatter plots, each symbol represents one mouse; horizontal lines indicate the medians.

Figure 3 shows that VacA is both required and sufficient for protection against allergic airway disease in the model of allergen-induced asthma. Extract from an H. pylori mutant lacking the VacA gene ("extr. AvacA") was consistently less efficient than wild-type extract ("extr. wt") at protecting allergen-sensitized and -challenged mice against bronchoalveolar and pulmonary inflammation, eosinophilia and goblet cell metaplasia (Fig. 3A-D). To examine whether VacA alone is sufficient to provide protection, oligomeric VacA purified from culture supernatants of H. pylori, as described in example 1, was intraperitoneally administered, once weekly from day 7 of age onwards. No adverse effects were observed in any of the mice, despite their young age at the time of the first doses. Strikingly, VacA provided a level of protection against asthma that was comparable to the protection conferred by extract treatment (Fig. 3A-D). A negative control VacA protein lacking an amino-terminal hydrophobic region of three tandem repeats that have been described as being essential for VacA's cytotoxic activity (Vinion-Dubiel et al, 1999, supra), i.e. of SEQ ID NO: 3 (Figure 5) failed to protect against asthma (Fig. 3A-D).

Figure 4 shows the beneficial effects of various concentrations, delivery routes and dosing regimens of purified VacA in allergic asthma. VacA that was prepared as

described above was either administered intraperitoneally or intragastrically at various concentrations and intervals in mice. 5 μg of VacA administered intraperitoneally in weekly intervals from age day 7 onwards until 2 weeks before challenge (as indicated by subscript "a" was as effective as 20 μg of VacA at preventing bronchoalveolar inflammation and eosinophilia (Figure 4 A,B). Intragastrically (perorally, p.o.) administered VacA (again delivered weekly from day 7 until 2 weeks before challenge) also provided significant protection (Figure 4 A,B). Three doses of intraperitoneally delivered VacA (delivered in weeks 1, 2 and 3 of life, denoted by subscript "b" in Figure 4) were insufficient to provide full protection (Figure 4A,B). Blocking IL-10 signaling with two doses of a neutralizing antibody delivered intraperitoneally during ovalbumin challenge abrogated protection (Figure 4 A,B).

These data support that, unexpectedly, the administration of VacA alone in purified form is able to induce asthma protection comparable to the whole cell extract and therefore may be administered in purified form to prevent allergic asthma,

Figure 5 shows examples of amino acid sequences of the Vac A polypeptides described herein. A: slml VacA (Q48245 H. pylori strain ATCC 49503/60190) of SEQ ID NO: 1; B: s2m2 VacA of SEQ ID NO: 2; C: negative control mutant (Δ6-27) VacA of SEQ ID NO: 3; D- K: SEQ ID NO 4 to SEQ ID NO: 11.

Figure 6 shows beneficial effects of H. pylori extract and Hp VacA based on clinical scoring (A) and on systemic parameters of food allergy (C to F) as described in Example 5. These data support that, unexpectedly, the administration of VacA alone in purified form is able to induce food allergy protection comparable to the whole cell extract and therefore may be administered in purified form to prevent allergic asthma.

Detailed description

The term "allergic disorder" refers to allergic settings and hypersensitivity to allergens such as allergen-induced or atopic asthma, atopic dermatitis (eczema), atopic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis, food allergy, occupational allergy, allergic broncho-pulmonal aspergillosis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

The term "asthma" refers to a disorder of the airways characterized by airway inflammation, hyper-responsiveness, and obstruction which often causes spasms of the bronchial smooth muscle system, and affects both the upper and lower respiratory tracts. There are several forms of asthma, characterized by varying degrees of severity.

Mild asthma, for example, is defined as brief episodes of wheezing, with or without dyspnea or cough. Moderately severe asthma is defined as wheezing and dyspnea, and can be with or without cough and expectoration, but generally interferes with daily activities and/or sleeping. Severe asthma is characterized by incapacitation due to dyspnea, and the afflicted patient typically is unable to eat or sleep normally, is very anxious, and is often exhausted. A condition known as status asthmaticus is the most severe form of asthma, and generally requires intensive hospital care, and may even prove fatal. The disease may occur as a result of both allergic and non-allergic mechanisms.

The term "allergen induced asthma" or "atopic asthma" refers to asthma resulting from a hypersensivity to an antigen/allergen. This includes, but is not limited to, all inhalable allergens including pollen form trees, grass, weeds or herbs or other group of allergens such as house dust mite, animal dander, cockroach, fungi and moulds. Furthermore, occupational allergens, such as flour, soy cow, latex and different mites {Tyrophagus putrescentiae; Lepidoglyphus destructor; Acarus siro) are included. Hypersensitivity to allergens, in particular antigen/allergen induced asthma is usually diagnosed on the basis of the pattern of symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, irritation/itching of the nose or eyes, increased lacrimation and running nose, itching of the skin with formation of an eczema as well as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and discomfort and diarrhoea in food allergy. Atopic asthma is clinically classified according to the frequency of symptoms, decreased forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), or peak expiratory flow rate (Peak Flow), increased Peak Flow variability, airway hyper-responsiveness and increased levels of allergen specific IgE.

The term "food allergy" refers to an abnormal response of the human immune system to harmless foods, caused by the immune system's reaction to some food proteins, usually involving human antibodies produced against specific allergens found in the food. Examples of common food allergens include components of milk, soy, fish and shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat (gluten), and eggs.

As used herein, the term "polypeptide" is used in its conventional meaning, i.e., as a sequence of amino acids. The polypeptides are not limited to a specific length of the product; thus, peptides, oligopeptides, and proteins are included within the definition of polypeptide, and such terms may be used interchangeably herein unless specifically

indicated otherwise. This term also does not refer to or exclude post-expression modifications of the polypeptide, for example, glycosylations, acetylations, phosphorylations and the like, as well as other modifications known in the art, both naturally occurring and non-naturally occurring. A polypeptide may be an entire protein, or a subsequence thereof. Particular polypeptides of interest in the context of this invention are amino acid subsequences comprising tolerogenic fragments.

The term "fragments" refers to polypeptides comprising a portion of peptide sequence corresponding to contiguous amino acids of a polypeptide set forth herein, including all intermediate lengths and variants thereof.

The term "VacA" includes slml VacA (SEQ ID NO: 1, 4-11) and s2m2 VacA (SEQ ID NO: 2). Such as described in Cover et al, 1992, J. Biol Chem., 267. -10570-1057 and Cover et al, 1997, J Cell. Biol, 138: 759-769. According to a particular embodiment, Vac A is slml VacA of SEQ ID NO: 1. According to another embodiment, Vac A is s2m2 VacA of SEQ ID NO: 2. According to another embodiment, Vac A is is slml VacA of SEQ ID NO: 9.

The term "variant" applies to both a polynucleotide or a polypeptide. A polypeptide "variant," as the term is used herein, is a peptide or a polypeptide substantially homologous to the referenced peptide sequence, but which has an amino acid sequence different from that of the referenced. Such variants may be naturally occurring or may be synthetically generated, for example, by modifying one or more of the above polypeptide sequences of the invention described herein using any of a number of techniques well known in the art. In many instances, a variant will contain conservative substitutions. Substantially homologous means a variant amino acid sequence which is identical to the referenced peptide sequence except for the deletion, insertion and/or substitution of a few amino acids, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 amino acids. Substantially homologous means a variant amino acid sequence that is at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98% or at least 99% identical to the referenced amino acid sequence. A variant nucleic acid sequence can be at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98% or at least 99% identical to the referenced nucleic acid sequence. The identity of two amino acid sequences or of two nucleic acid sequences can be determined by visual inspection and/or mathematical calculation, or more easily by comparing sequence

information using known computer program used for sequence comparison such as Clustal package version 1.83.

A variant may comprise a sequence having at least one conservatively substituted amino acid. A "conservative substitution" is one in which an amino acid is substituted for another amino acid that has similar properties, such that one skilled in the art of peptide chemistry would expect the secondary structure and hydropathic nature of the polypeptide to be substantially unchanged (e.g. having similar physiochemical characteristics). Modifications may be made in the structure of the polynucleotides and polypeptides of the present invention and still obtain a functional molecule that encodes a variant or derivative polypeptide with desirable characteristics, e.g., with tolerogenic characteristics. When it is desired to alter the amino acid sequence of a polypeptide to create an equivalent, or even an improved, tolerogenic variant or portion of a polypeptide of the invention, one skilled in the art will typically change one or more of the codons of the encoding DNA sequence. In making such changes, the hydropathic index, polarity, charge, solubility, hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity and/or the amphipathic nature of the amino acids are considered. The importance of the hydropathic amino acid index in conferring interactive biologic function on a protein is generally understood in the art (Kyte, et al, 1982, J. Mol. Biol, 157: 105- 131). Examples of conservative substitutions include substitution of one aliphatic residue for another, such as He, Val, Leu, or Ala for one another, or substitutions of one polar residue for another, such as between Lys and Arg; Glu and Asp; or Gin and Asn. Other such conservative substitutions, for example, substitutions of entire regions having similar hydrophobicity characteristics, are well known {Kyte, et al, 1982, supra). For example, a "conservative amino acid substitution" may involve a substitution of a native amino acid residue with a non-native residue such that there is little or no effect on the polarity or charge of the amino acid residue at that position. Desired amino acid substitutions (whether conservative or non-conservative) can be determined by those skilled in the art at the time such substitutions are desired. Exemplary amino acid substitutions are presented in Table 1 below. The term "variant" also includes a peptide or polypeptide substantially homologous to the referenced peptide sequence, but which has an amino acid sequence different from that of the referenced sequence because one or more amino acids have been chemically modified or substituted by amino acids analogs. This term also includes glycosylated polypeptides.

Table 1

Generally, substitutions for one or more amino acids present in the original polypeptide should be made conservatively. Polypeptides of the invention, polypeptide fragments and variants thereof are capable of inducing tolerance to an antigen/allergen when administered in vivo.

By "tolerogenic fragment" is meant a fragment that can induce tolerance to antigens/allergens described in the present application. In certain embodiments, a tolerogenic fragment can induce tolerance to antigens/allergens at least as well as the full-length VacA polypeptide can and in certain embodiments may be more effective than the full-length VacA polypeptide at inducing tolerance. However, in certain embodiments, a tolerogenic fragment induces tolerance to antigens/allergens but may not induce tolerance as effectively as the full-length VacA polypeptide. Such tolerogenic fragments may still be useful in the present invention particularly where said tolerogenic fragments have other advantageous properties, such as, but not limited to, ease of preparation or purification as compared to the full-length VacA polypeptide. As would be recognized by the skilled person, a variety of known assays can be used to assess induction of tolerance, including measuring delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, measuring cytokine productions by ELISA or other methods, T cell proliferation or cytotoxicity assays, B cell proliferation assays, antibody production, and the like. Such assays are known in the art and are described, for example, in Current Protocols in Immunology, Edited by: Coligan et al.,2001 John Wiley & Sons, NY, N. Y.; Ausubel et al. , 2001, Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Greene Publ. Assoc. Inc. & John Wiley & Sons, Inc., NY, N. Y.).

Polypeptides of the invention are prepared using any of a variety of well-known synthetic and/or recombinant techniques, the latter of which are further described below. Polypeptides, portions and other variants generally less than about 150 amino acids can be generated by synthetic means, using techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. In one illustrative example, such polypeptides are synthesized using any of the commercially available solid-phase techniques, such as the Merrifield solid-phase synthesis method, where amino acids are sequentially added to a growing amino acid chain {Merrifield, 1963, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 85:2149-2146).

The term "pharmaceutically acceptable" refers to a carrier comprised of a material that is not biologically or otherwise undesirable.

The term "carrier" refers to any components present in a pharmaceutical formulation other than the active agent and thus includes diluents, binders, lubricants, disintegrants, fillers, coloring agents, wetting or emulsifying agents, pH buffering agents, preservatives and the like.

As used herein, "treatment" and "treating" and the like generally mean obtaining a desired pharmacological and physiological effect. The effect may be prophylactic in terms of preventing or partially preventing a disease, symptom or condition thereof

and/or may be therapeutic in terms of a partial or complete cure of a disease, condition, symptom or adverse effect attributed to the disease. The term "treatment" as used herein covers any treatment of a disease in a mammal, particularly a human, and isnot necessarily meant to imply cure or complete abolition of symptoms, but refers to any type of treatment that imparts a benefit to a patient and includes: (a) preventing the disease from occurring in a subject which may be predisposed to the disease but has not yet been diagnosed as having it for example based on familial history, overweight status or age; (b) inhibiting the disease, i.e., arresting its development; or relieving the disease, i.e., causing regression of the disease and/or its symptoms or conditions such as improvement or remediation of damage.

In particular, prevention and/or treatment of allergic disorders according to the invention comprises normalization or decrease of the antigen/allergen sensitivity of an individual. The term "treatment" refers to any type of treatment or prevention that imparts a benefit to a subject afflicted with or at risk of developing a hypersensitivity immune response to an allergen/allergen of interest, including improvement in the condition of the subject (e.g., in one or more symptoms), delay in the onset of symptoms or slowing the progression of symptoms, etc.. According to a particular aspect, prevention and/or treatment of allergic disorders according to the invention comprises inducing peripheral tolerance to allergens.

According to one aspect, effects of a treatment according to the invention may be observed through one or more the following: prevention or reduction of the airway hyper-responsiveness, prevention or reduction of cell penetration into bronchial tubes (typically through the functional mechanisms for inhibiting production of IL-4, which is a cytokine secreted by Th2 cells and involved in inflammatory mechanisms of allergic reaction) prevention or reduction of pulmonary inflammation, of bronchoalveolar eosinophilia, of goblet cell metaplasia, of mucus production and Th2 cytokine production that are hallmarks of allergen-induced asthma. Treatment success may also be evident by the observation of the generation of IL-10 in regulatory lymphocytes or other cells or in total lungs (BALF, sputum) or serum, which can be assessed by ELISA. The term "subject" as used herein refers to mammals. For example, mammals contemplated by the present invention include human, primates, domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, laboratory rodents and the like.

The term "high-risk" subjects or individuals are subjects that are at risk to develop hypersensitivity to allergens/antigens, in particular of developing atopic or allergen-induced asthma. Those include genetic predisposition such as a family history of atopic diseases in close relatives, smoking mother during pregnancy, and smoking environment after birth, viral respiratory infections, such as by respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus and occupational exposure to known occupational allergens (e.g. flour). The risk or predisposition of developing hypersensitivity to allergens/antigens, in particular of developing atopic or allergen-induced asthma can be assessed by recording complete history including family history of the patient, skin prick testing, assessment of serum IgE, specific serum IgE levels and measurement of airway hyperreactivity.

The term "efficacy" of a treatment or method according to the invention can be measured based on changes in the course of disease or condition in response to a use or a method according to the invention. For example, the efficacy of a treatment or method according to the invention can be measured by measuring the level of tolerance of the subject before and after the treatment, for example as described below.

The term "tolerance" as referred herein is defined as immune unresponsiveness to an antigen/allergen, usually an antigen/allergen implicated in causing disease. Although tolerance may be induced by administering antigens/allergens by different routes, oral tolerance refers to the oral administration of the composition, which results in inducing tolerance to an antigen/allergens when administered in vivo. The induction of tolerance can therefore be monitored by various techniques including: measuring the response to allergen in skin prick test, assessment of allergen specific IgE and assessment of specific T cell responses for the allergen (proliferation and cytokine production).

The term "tolerogenic effective amount" as used herein refers to an amount of at least one polypeptide selected from VacA, a VacA fragment and a VacA variant or a pharmaceutical formulation thereof according to the invention that elicits a detectable tolerogenic response in a subject that that is being administered the said subject.

As used herein, the term "antigen" refers to a foreign substance that that when introduced into the body triggers an immune system response, resulting in production of an antibody as part of the body's defense against disease

The term "allergen" is meant to designate an antigen capable of eliciting a hypersensitivity immune response (such as described herein) in an individual, such as in an animal, such as in a human. The allergen may be a sensitizing allergen or a cross-reacting allergen.

The term "non-denaturated" refers to the absence of observed denaturation of the protein (e.g. structure). This can be verified by any method well-known in the art such as gel electrophoresis, gel filtration or mass spectrometry.

The polypeptides of the invention and formulations thereof have immunomodulatory properties that can be useful for tolerization strategies such as in allergic disorders and in particular allergic asthma. The polypeptides of the invention and formulations thereof can be useful in particular in tolerization treatments for asthma prevention in high-risk individuals.

VacA polypeptides of the invention in the form of dead cell extracts or purified peptides VacA polypeptides of the invention, fragments and variants thereof include substances described in the detailed description and they can be administered in different forms including in a form of a cell extract (dead) containing VacA or in a form of a purified synthetic polypeptide (recombinantly produced or obtained by synthesis).

In one aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention, including fragments and variants thereof in the form of a H. pylori bacteria dead cell extract.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention, including fragments and variants thereof in the form of a H. pylori bacteria cell extract, wherein bacteria cells are non-denaturated killed H. pylori bacteria cells.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention, including fragments and variants thereof in the form of a H. pylori bacteria dead cell extract, wherein the H. pylori bacteria strain is H. pylori PMSS1 {Arnold et al. 2011, Gastroenterology, 140, 199-209), or any other useful human patient isolate of H. pylori, or mutants of said isolates that lack one or more genes due to gene deletion or insertion mutagenesis or point mutations.

The processes which may be used for preparing H. pylori cell extract are known to the skilled person and include the use of physical means that produce non-denaturated killed cell bacteria, i.e. under non-denaturating conditions such as described in Laemmli et al, 1970, Nature, 277, 680-, such as for example use of the so called "French pressure cell press" (Kelemen et al, 1979, J. Cell Sci. 35:431-141).

Alternatively, ultra sonication or other methods such as extended freeze drying, repeated cycles of freezing and thawing, lyophilization, homogenization techniques and other cell disruption techniques using physical forces can be applied, as long as they preserve H. pylori proteins in native form such as described in Bhaduri et al, 1983, Appl. Environ. Microbiol, 46 (4): 941-3).

In another further aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention and fragments and variants thereof in the form of a H. pylori bacterial cell extract obtainable by a process comprising the steps of:

(i) harvesting a culture of living bacteria cells;

(ii) submitting the harvested bacteria to several freeze/thaw cycles in water or aqueous solution of a salt;

(iii) disrupting the bacterial cells under high pressure, e.g. using a French pressure cell press;

(iv) collecting the cell extract.

In another further aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention and fragments and variants thereof in the form of a H. pylori bacterial cell extract obtainable by a process as described above comprising a further step of removing the cell debris after or when collecting the cell extract.

In another aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention, including fragments and variants thereof in the form of a purified VacA polypeptide.

In another further aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention, including fragments and variants thereof in the form of a purified recombinant VacA polypeptide.

In another further aspect, the present invention provides VacA polypeptides of the invention, including fragments and variants thereof in the form of VacA polypeptide composition essentially pure, i.e. essentially free from other native extract antigen components such as CagA and or NAP (neutrophil activating protein). For example, such essentially pure VacA polypeptide composition can be obtained from mutated H. pylori strains that have the other component(s)'s genes knocked out such as where the CagA gene is knocked out.

The preparation of VacA polypeptide, fragments and variants thereof according to the invention recombinantly, can be achieved by various techniques known in the art.

Nucleic acid sequence encoding for said VacA polypeptide, fragments and variants thereof can be inserted in the recombinant expression vector by methods well known to a person skilled in the art such as, for example, those that are described in MOLECULAR CLONING: A LABORATORY MANUAL, Sambrook et al, 4th Ed., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, N. Y., 2001.

In a further embodiment, it is provided a host cell comprising a recombinant vector according to the invention.

The introduction of the recombinant vector in a host cell can be carried out according to methods that are well known to a person skilled in the art, such as those described in BASIC METHODS IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, Davis et al, 2nd ed, McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, 1995, and MOLECULAR CLONING: A LABORATORY MANUAL, supra, such as transfection by calcium phosphate, transfection by DEAE dextran, transfection, microinjection, transfection by cationic lipids, electroporation, transduction or infection.

The host cell can be, for example, bacterial cells such as E. coli, cells of fungi such as yeast cells and cells of Aspergillus, Streptomyces, insect cells, Chinese Hamster Ovary cells (CHO), C127 mouse cell line, BHK cell line of Syrian hamster cells, Human Embryonic Kidney 293 (HEK 293) cells. In a particular embodiment, the host cell is a CHO cell or a HEK 293 cell.

The host cells can be used, for example, to express a polypeptide of the invention. After purification by standard methods, the polypeptide of the invention can be used in a method described hereinafter.

For instance, when expression systems that secrete the recombinant protein are employed, the culture medium may first be concentrated using a commercially available protein concentration filter, for example, an ultrafiltration unit. Following the concentration step, the concentrate can be applied to a purification matrix such as a gel filtration medium. Alternatively, an anion exchange and/or an affinity resin can be employed. The matrices can be acrylamide, agarose, dextran, cellulose or other types commonly employed in protein purification. Alternatively, a cation exchange step can be employed. Some or all of the foregoing purification steps, in various combinations, are well known and can be employed to provide a substantially homogeneous recombinant protein.

Recombinant polypeptides produced in bacterial culture can be isolated by initial disruption of the host cells, centrifugation, extraction from cell pellets if an insoluble polypeptide, or from the supernatant fluid if a soluble polypeptide, followed by one or more concentration, salting-out, ion exchange, affinity purification or size exclusion chromatography steps. Microbial cells can be disrupted by any convenient method, including freeze-thaw cycling, sonication, mechanical disruption, or use of other physical or chemical cell lysing agents, including detergents.

In another aspect, VacA polypeptide of the invention can be prepared recombinantly as a full length protein as described in McClain et al, 2003, J. Biol. Chem., 278: 12101-12108, or through the reconstitution of its two domains, p33 and p55, in the presence of detergents as described in Gonzalez-Rivera et al, 2010, Biochemistry 49:5743-5752 and Gangwer et al, 2007, PNAS, 104(41): 16293-8.

In another aspect, the present invention provides variants or fragments of the VacA polypeptides described herein. Polypeptide variants generally encompassed by the present invention will typically exhibit at least about 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, or 99% or more identity (determined as described below), along its length, to a polypeptide sequences set forth herein.

In another aspect, the VacA polypeptides, fragments and variants thereof can be used associated with a pharmaceutically acceptable salt or a combination of pharmaceutically acceptable salts.

Compositions

The invention provides VacA polypeptides, variants or fragment thereof, pharmaceutical compositions thereof, and methods for treating a subject, in particular a mammalian subject, and most particularly a human patient who is suffering from a hypersensitivity to an allergens/antigen or a risk of developing hypersensitivity to an antigen/allergen, in particular allergen-induced or atopic asthma or food allergy.

According to another aspect, the invention provides VacA polypeptides, variants or fragment thereof, pharmaceutical compositions thereof and methods for controlling hypersensitivity to an antigen/allergen in a subject, in particular inducing a tolerance to said antigen/allergen

In a particular embodiment, the invention provides VacA polypeptides, variants or fragment thereof and a pharmaceutical formulation according to the invention for use as a medicament.

Pharmaceutical compositions of the invention can contain at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof according to the invention in any form described herein. According to a particular aspect, the pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are tolerogenic compositions. In a particular aspect, pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are tolerogenic compositions capable of inducing a peripheral tolerance and diminishing the immune response to antigens through immunoregulation In a particular embodiment, pharmaceutical compositions of the invention comprises at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof which is essentially free from immunogenic component such as immunogenic epitope or allergen.

In another particular aspect, pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are tolerogenic compositions comprising at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof in combination with known allergens such as food allergens such as allergens deriving from milk, peanut, fish or shellfish, wheat (gluten), soy, egg or the like.

In another particular aspect, pharmaceutical compositions of the invention are tolerogenic compositions comprising at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof in combination with known allergens such as allergen derived from pollens such as pollens from grasses, trees, and weeds or the like. According to a particular aspect, such tolerogenic compositions have the ability of inducing allergen-specific immune tolerance and diminishing the immune response through immunoregulation (known as desensitization or hypo-sensitization or immunotherapy.

According to a particular aspect, at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof of the invention is administered in combination with known allergens, in particular food allergens. The combination might be achieved by concomitant administration of said at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof and of the allergen or administration of said at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof and of the allergen within the same single formulation or administration of said at least one VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof when covalently linked to some immunogenic component of said allergen.

Compositions of this invention may further comprise one or more pharmaceutically acceptable additional ingredient(s) such as alum, stabilizers, antimicrobial agents, buffers, coloring agents, flavoring agents, adjuvants, and the like.

The compositions according to the invention, together with a conventionally employed adjuvant, carrier, diluent or excipient may be placed into the form of pharmaceutical compositions and unit dosages thereof, and in such form may be employed as solids, such as tablets or filled capsules, or liquids such as solutions, suspensions, emulsions, elixirs, or capsules filled with the same, all for oral use, or in the form of sterile injectable solutions for parenteral (including subcutaneous) use by injection or continuous infusion. Injectable compositions are typically based upon injectable sterile saline or phosphate-buffered saline or other injectable carriers known in the art. Such pharmaceutical compositions and unit dosage forms thereof may comprise ingredients in conventional proportions, with or without additional active compounds or principles, and such unit dosage forms may contain any suitable effective amount of the active ingredient commensurate with the intended daily dosage range to be employed. According to a particular embodiment, compositions according to the invention are injectable.

Compositions of this invention may be liquid formulations including, but not limited to, aqueous or oily suspensions, solutions, emulsions, syrups, and elixirs. The compositions may also be formulated as a dry product for reconstitution with water or other suitable vehicle before use. Such liquid preparations may contain additives including, but not limited to, suspending agents, emulsifying agents, non-aqueous vehicles and preservatives. Suspending agents include, but are not limited to, sorbitol syrup, methyl cellulose, glucose/sugar syrup, gelatin, hydroxyethyl cellulose, carboxymethyl cellulose, aluminum stearate gel, and hydrogenated edible fats. Emulsifying agents include, but are not limited to, lecithin, sorbitan monooleate, and acacia. Preservatives include, but are not limited to, methyl or propyl p-hydroxybenzoate and sorbic acid. Dispersing or wetting agents include but are not limited to poly(ethylene glycol), glycerol, bovine serum albumin, Tween®, Span®.

Further materials as well as formulation processing techniques and the like are set out in Part 5 of Part 5 of Remington 's "The Science and Practice of Pharmacy ", 22nd Edition, 2012, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.

Compositions of this invention may also be formulated as a depot preparation, which may be administered by implantation or by intramuscular injection.

Solid compositions of this invention may be in the form of tablets or lozenges formulated in a conventional manner. For example, tablets and capsules for oral administration may contain conventional excipients including, but not limited to, binding agents, fillers, lubricants, disintegrants and wetting agents. Binding agents include, but are not limited to, syrup, accacia, gelatin, sorbitol, tragacanth, mucilage of starch and polyvinylpyrrolidone. Fillers include, but are not limited to, lactose, sugar, microcrystalline cellulose, maizestarch, calcium phosphate, and sorbitol. Lubricants include, but are not limited to, magnesium stearate, stearic acid, talc, polyethylene glycol, and silica. Disintegrants include, but are not limited to, potato starch and sodium starch glycollate. Wetting agents include, but are not limited to, sodium lauryl sulfate. Tablets may be coated according to methods well known in the art.

Compositions of this invention may also be formulated for inhalation, which may be in a form including, but not limited to, a solution, suspension, or emulsion that may be administered as a dry powder or in the form of an aerosol or spray using a propellant. The compounds of this invention can also be administered in sustained release forms or from sustained release drug delivery systems.

In certain embodiments, the therapeutic compound(s) are directly administered as a pressurized aerosol or nebulized formulation to the patient's lungs via inhalation. Such formulations may contain any of a variety of known aerosol propellants useful for endopulmonary and/or intranasal inhalation administration. In addition, water may be present, with or without any of a variety of cosolvents, surfactants, stabilizers (e.g., antioxidants, chelating agents, inert gases and buffers). For compositions to be administered from multiple dose containers, antimicrobial agents are typically added. Such compositions are also generally filtered and sterilized, and may be lyophilized to provide enhanced stability and to improve solubility.

The pharmaceutical composition of the invention may consist of dosage units that can be administered as an aerosol. The term aerosol is used to denote a variety of systems ranging from those of colloidal nature to systems consisting of pressurized packages.

Delivery may be by a liquefied or compressed gas or by a suitable pump system that dispenses the active ingredients. Aerosols of compounds of the invention may be delivered in single phase, bi-phasic, or tri-phasic systems in order to deliver the active ingredient(s). Delivery of the aerosol includes the necessary container, activators, valves, subcontainers, and the like, which together may form a kit. One of ordinary skill in the art, without undue experimentation may determine preferred aerosols.

According to one aspect, the invention provides an oral pharmaceutical composition. According to one aspect, the invention provides an injectable pharmaceutical composition.

According to one aspect, the invention provides an inhalable pharmaceutical composition.

As described elsewhere herein, in certain embodiments, a prophylactic/therapeutically effective dose of a VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof, pharmaceutical composition thereof as used herein is a dose sufficient to induce tolerance to an antigen/allergen measured using any of a variety of methods as described herein. In a further embodiment, a prophylactic/therapeutically effective dose of a VacA polypeptide, variant or fragment thereof, pharmaceutical composition thereof as used herein is a dose sufficient to induce T cell tolerance to an antigen/allergen as measured using any of a variety of methods as described herein, such as cytokine release assays, intracellular cytokine staining and flow cytometry, and the like. Functional T cell assays, T-cell suppression assays measuring the suppression of proliferation or cytokine secretion by co-cultured effector T-cells may also be used.

Mode of administration

Polypeptides and compositions of this invention may be administered in any manner including intravenous injection, intraperitoneal injection, subcutaneous injection, oral route, intranasal administration, intrapulmonary instillation or by inhalation. In certain embodiments, a combination of different routes may also be used.

The exact dose of polypeptides and compositions is readily determined by one of skill in the art based on the teachings herein, along with the potency of the specific polypeptide and composition, the age, weight, sex and physiological condition of the subject.

By way of example, in various embodiments the dosage of a tolerizing polypeptide and composition required to achieve (or maintain) tolerance in a subject is low relative to traditional tolerization regimens. For instance, as few as one or a few doses (e.g., fewer than about three, or fewer than about five doses) of agent may be sufficient to induce tolerance. By way of example, a weekly from about 5 to about 500 mg/dose might be used to achieve tolerisation effects.

According to one embodiment, polypeptides and compositions of the invention are administered before or at the beginning of the onset of the allergic symptoms or the exposure to the allergen challenge. For example, polypeptides and compositions of the invention are administered before the subject is subjected to the allergen(s), typically in case of patients at risk of suffering from a seasonal allergic disorder such as pollen allergy or before the patient has already developed allergic symptoms in case of infants at risk of suffering from an allergic disorder (e.g. genetic or environmental risk) such as atopic asthma. Administration during pregnancy (oral, intranasal or via any other route) to pregnant mothers at risk of atopy can be envisioned as well, either alone or in combination with continued treatment of the newborn infant such as described in Pfefferle et al, 2013, J. Allergy Clin. Immunol, 131(6): 1453-63.

According to a further embodiment, the polypeptides and compositions of the invention are administered at least two weeks (e.g. from about two to about 12 weeks) before the usual period of allergen exposure. According to a further embodiment, the polypeptides and compositions of the invention are administered by repeated administrations before and/or until and/or, through-out the allergen exposure, such as for example from about once or twice a week to about once or twice a month. In case of administration to pregnant mothers with the goal to reduce asthma and allergic risk in the newborn, the administration should be initiated early, ideally already in the first trimenon {Pfefferle et al, 2013, supra).

Combination

According to the invention, a Vac A polypeptide, a variant or fragment thereof and pharmaceutical formulations thereof can be administered alone or in combination with a co-agent useful in the prevention and/or treatment of hypersensitivity, in particular allergic disorders such as atopic asthma e.g. for example a co-agent selected from a

bronchodilator, a co-administered allergen used for hyposensitization with a co-agent useful in the tolerization to an antigen/allergen e.g. for example antibodies or other reagents that interfere with co-stimulation or co-inhibition (e.g. via PD1, CTLA-4, CD28, CD40 and others expressed on lymphocytes and other immune cells.

The invention encompasses the administration of a Vac A polypeptide, a variant or fragment thereof and pharmaceutical formulations thereof to an individual prior to, simultaneously or sequentially with other therapeutic/prophylactic/immunotherapeutic regimens or co-agents in the prevention or treatment of antigen/allergen hypersensitivity, in particular allergic disorders such as atopic asthma (e.g. combined tolerization regimen), in a therapeutically effective amount. A Vac A polypeptide, a variant or fragment thereof the pharmaceutical formulation thereof that is administered simultaneously with said co-agents can be administered in the same or different composition(s) and by the same or different route(s) of administration.

According to another aspect, the Vac A polypeptides, variants or fragments thereof according to the invention may be used in an immunotherapy regimen wherein the Vac A polypeptides, variants or fragments thereof according to the invention are associated with at least one antigen of a broad range of antigens (allergens). H. pylori extract or VacA polypeptides could be mixed and administered with house dust mite allergen, pollen-derived allergens, or any of the above listed food allergens (peanut-, milk-, soy-derived or other) or any other allergens to promote desensitization (hypo-sensitization) in an allergen-specific manner (Khinchi et al, 2004, Allergy, 59(l):45-53).

According to one embodiment, is provided a pharmaceutical formulation comprising a Vac A polypeptide, a variant or fragment thereof, combined with at least one co-agent useful in the prevention and/or treatment of hypersensitivity, in particular allergic disorders such as atopic asthma, and at least one pharmaceutically acceptable carrier, diluent or excipient thereof.

The dosage administered, as single or multiple doses, to an individual will vary depending upon a variety of factors, including pharmacokinetic properties, patient conditions and characteristics (sex, age, body weight, health, size), extent of symptoms, concurrent treatments, frequency of treatment and the effect desired.

Patients

In an embodiment, patients according to the invention are patients suffering from a disorder selected from an allergic disorder such as allergen-induced or atopic asthma (eczema), atopic dermatitis (hay fever), atopic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, food allergy, occupational allergy, allergic broncho-pulmonal aspergillosis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

In another embodiment, patients according to the invention are patients at risk of suffering from an allergic disorder.

In another further embodiment, patients according to the invention are suffering from allergen-induced or atopic asthma.

In another embodiment, patients according to the invention are patients at risk of suffering from a seasonal allergic disorder such as pollen allergy, including food-pollen allergy.

In another further embodiment, patients according to the invention are children or infants, for example infants before the age of about three years.

In another further embodiment, patients according to the invention are pregnant mothers with a high risk of atopy or pregnant mothers of children with a high risk of atopy, which may be treated during pregnancy.

In another further embodiment, patients according to the invention are suffering from an allergic disorder selected from atopic dermatitis, atopic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis.

In another further embodiment, patients according to the invention are suffering from food allergy.

Use according to the invention

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a process for tolerizing a subject or inducing a tolerization response in said subject to at least one antigen/allergen by use of a polypeptide or a formulation or a combination as herein. The polypeptide, formulation or combination according to the invention is administered in an amount and in accordance with a dosage regimen that is effective for inducing tolerance in a subject.

In one embodiment of the invention is provided a use of a polypeptide or a formulation thereof according to the invention for the preparation of a pharmaceutical composition for the prevention, repression and/or treatment of an allergic disorder or an allergic response, in particular atopic asthma.

In another embodiment of the invention is provided a use of a polypeptide or a formulation thereof according to the invention for the preparation of a pharmaceutical composition for the repression or treatment of allergen hypersensitivity.

In another embodiment of the invention is provided a use of a polypeptide or a formulation thereof according to the invention for the preparation of a pharmaceutical composition for tolerizing a subject or inducing a tolerization response in said subject. In another embodiment of the invention is provided a method for tolerizing a subject or inducing a tolerization response in said subject, said method comprising administering in a subject in need thereof an effective or tolerizing amount of a polypeptide or a formulation thereof according to the invention.

In another embodiment of the invention is provided a method for preventing, repressing or treating an allergic response, in particular, an allergic disorder in a subject, in particular atopic asthma, said method comprising administering in a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount a polypeptide according to the invention, a fragment or a variant thereof, or a pharmaceutical formulation thereof according to the invention.

According to another embodiment, the invention is provided a method for treating allergen intolerance in a subject, said method comprising administering sequentially or simultaneously to said subject a polypeptide according to the invention or a composition thereof and the allergen(s) or an antigenic component or fragment or analog thereof in an amount effective to induce tolerance to said allergen in said subject.

In a further embodiment of the invention is provided a use or a method according to the invention, wherein the subject is predisposed or at risk to develop an allergic disorder, in particular atopic asthma, for example based on familial history, overweight status or age.

According to another embodiment, the invention relates to a pharmaceutical formulation comprising a polypeptide selected from a Vac A protein, a fragment or a variant thereof, combined with at least one co-agent useful in the prevention, repression and/or treatment of an allergic disorder, in particular atopic asthma and/or for inducing a tolerization response to an allergen, and at least one pharmaceutically acceptable carrier, diluent or excipient thereof.

In another embodiment, is provided a use or a method according to the invention, wherein a polypeptide or a composition of the invention are to be used in combination with an allergen.

In another embodiment, is provided polypeptide, a composition or a method according to the invention wherein said polypeptide or a composition thereof is to be administered by the oral, intranasal, intrapulmonary, parenteral or systemic route.

In another embodiment, is provided polypeptide, a composition or a method according to the invention wherein VacA is s lml VacA.

In another embodiment, is provided polypeptide, a composition or a method according to the invention wherein VacA is s2m2 VacA.

In another embodiment, is provided polypeptide, a composition or a method according to the invention wherein VacA is a Vac A protein comprising an amino acid sequence selected from SEQ ID NO: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

In another embodiment, is provided polypeptide, a composition or a method according to the invention wherein VacA is a Vac A protein comprising an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1 or a fragment or a variant thereof.

In another embodiment, is provided polypeptide, a composition or a method according to the invention wherein VacA is a Vac A protein comprising an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 2 or a fragment or a variant thereof.

In another embodiment, is provided a medicinal kit comprising in compartmental form a first compartment or series of compartments comprising a polypeptide, fragment or variant thereof of a compositions thereof and a second compartment or series of compartments comprising an allergen or source of allergen or antigenic fragments, components or analogs thereof with instructions for use.

Examples illustrating the invention will be described hereinafter in a more detailed manner and by reference to the embodiments represented in the Figures.

EXAMPLES

The following abbreviations refer respectively to the definitions below:

BALF (Broncho-alveolar lavage fluid), BCA (Bicinchoninic acid assay), EDTA (ethylene-diaminetetraacetic acid), FCS (Foetal Calf Serum), GM-CSF (granulocyte

macrophage- colony stimulating factor), H&E (Hematoxylin and eosin, i.p. (intraperiotoneally), MCTP1 (mast cell protease PI), MLN (mesenteric lymph node), PAS (periodic acid Schiff), PBS (Phosphate Buffer Sulfate), RPMI (Royal Park Memorial Institute (culture medium).

Example 1: H. pylori dead cell extract in allergen-induced asthma

To assess whether regular administration of compositions of the invention provided in the form of a H. pylori dead cell extract protects against allergen-induced responses such as asthma, the following model was used: mice were administered with weekly doses of intragastrically of whole dead cell extract (prepared as described below) from age day 7 onwards prior to subjecting them to ovalbumin sensitization and challenge with alum-adjuvanted ovalbumin as described below. Control mice that had received ovalbumin but no H. pylori dead cell extract developed airway hyper-responsiveness to methacholine (Fig. 1 A,B) and bronchoalveolar immune cell infiltration and eosinophilia as measured by staining and quantification of cells harvested by bronchoalveolar lavage (Fig. 1C,D), as well as histologically evident lung inflammation and goblet cell metaplasia as determined by histological assessment and scoring of H&E and PAS-stained paraffin sections (Fig. 1 E-G). The re-stimulation of single cell lung preparations with ovalbumin induced the production of high levels of the Th2 cytokines IL-5 and IL-13 as measured by ELISA and cytometric bead array (following the manufacturer's instructions, R&D Biosystems; BD Biosciences) (Fig. 1H,I). In contrast, mice that had received H. pylori dead cell extract were protected against airway hyper-responsiveness (Fig. 1A,B), and exhibited significantly lower levels of bronchoalveolar and pulmonary inflammation, eosinophilia and goblet cell metaplasia (Fig. 1C-G). Th2 cytokine production upon allergen re-stimulation of lung preparations ELISA and cytometric bead array was also reduced (Fig. 1H,I). The failure of dead cell extract-treated mice to develop allergen-induced symptoms of asthma was not due to an impaired primary response to the allergen, as the levels of ovalbumin-specific serum IgE as measured by ELISA were similar in all sensitized mice.

To address the specificity of the observed effects and elucidate key prerequisites of protection, various administration routes and regimens, ages at treatment onset were investigated, as well as extracts from other gastrointestinal pathogens. Interestingly, the systemic (intraperitoneal) administration of H. pylori dead cell extract was as efficient as the intragastric route at conferring protection against allergen-induced asthma. Intragastric treatment was less effective when initiated in adult mice as opposed to neonates. Heat inactivated H. pylori extract, as well as identical amounts of extracts generated from cultures of E. coli or Salmonella typhimurium, failed to confer protection against the examined hallmarks of allergic airway disease.

In conclusion, the beneficial effects of dead cell extract treatment are specific to H. pylori and require a heat-sensitive component of the bacteria, and are most pronounced if the treatment is initiated in young mice.

Preparation ofH. pylori dead cell extract and purification of GGT and VacA

H. pylori strain PMSS1 {Arnold et al. 2011, supra) secreting s2m2 VacA was cultured in Brucella broth supplemented with 10% FCS, pelleted by centrifugation and washed once with PBS. Bacteria were subjected to three freeze/thaw cycles and disrupted by three passes through a French pressure cell press (Stansted Fluid Power, Cell Pressure Homogenizer) at 30.000 bars. Cell debris were removed by centrifugation and the supernatant filtered through a 2 μπι filter leading to the dead cell extracts used in the present examples. Protein concentrations were determined using the BCA Protein Kit (R&D systems).

H. pylori VacA was purified from H. pylori culture supernatants using previously published procedures {Cover et al, 1992, J. Biol. Chem., 267: 10570-1057; Cover et al, 1997, J. Cell. Biol, 138: 759-769), with the following slight modifications. H. pylori strain ATCC 49503/60190 which was first described in 1990 {Cover et al, 1990, Infect. Immun. 58: 603-610) was cultured in sulfite-free Brucella broth containing either cholesterol or 0.5% charcoal. After centrifugation of the culture, supernatant proteins were precipitated with a 50% saturated solution of ammonium sulfate. The oligomeric form of VacA was isolated by gel filtration chromatography with a Superose 6 HR 16/50 column in PBS containing 0.02% sodium azide and 1 mM EDTA. .

Animal experimentation

C57BL/6 and BL/6.BATF3-/- mice (Jackson Labs) were orally infected with H. pylori strain PMSS1 as described {Arnold et al, 2011, supra), or received either once-weekly oral or i.p. doses of 200 μg dead cell extract (prepared as described above) of H. pylori wild type PMSS1 or the mutant strain, lacking the vac A gene (PMSSlAvacA) (described in Oertli et al, 2013, supra), Salmonella typhimurium, or E. coli or once-weekly i.p. doses of 25 μg slml type VacA (SEQ ID NO: 1) -wild type produced as explained above or the deleted variant Δ6-27 purified from H. pylori strain ATCC 49503/0190 of SEQ ID NO: 3 as described in Vinion-Dubiel et al, 1999, J. Biol. Chem., 274:37736-37742.

Mice were sensitized by intraperitoneal injection with alum-adjuvanted ovalbumin (20 μg ovalbumin, Sigma- Aldrich emulsified in 2.25 mg aluminum hydroxide (Alum Imject; Pierce)) at 8 and 10 weeks of age and challenged with 1% aerosolized ovalbumin using an ultrasonic nebulizer (NE-U17; Omron) for 20 min daily on days 31, 32 and 33 post initial sensitization. Unsensitized mice served as negative controls. One group received once-weekly doses of 200 μg H. pylori dead extract intragastrically from day 7 of age until the second sensitization.

Airway resistance measurements were performed on anesthetized, intubated and mechanically ventilated mice and airway resistance (as measured using the FinePointe Resistance and Compliance System, Buxco Electronics) was recorded in response to increasing doses of inhaled metacholine.

In vivo blocking of IL-10 signaling as described in Example 2 was achieved by three i.p. injections of 250 μg anti-IL-lOR antibody (clone 1B 1.3A, BioXCell) during the challenge phase. Lungs were lavaged via the trachea with 1 ml PBS. Broncho-alveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cells were counted using trypan blue dye exclusion. Differential cell counts of macrophages, lymphocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils were performed on cyto-centrifuged preparations stained with the Microscopy Hemacolor ®-Set (Merck). For lung histopathology, lungs were fixed by inflation and immersion in 10% formalin and embedded in paraffin. Tissue sections were stained with H&E and periodic acid-Schiff and examined in blinded fashion on a BX40 Olympus microscope. Peribronchial inflammation was scored on a scale from 0 to 4. PAS-positive goblet cells were quantified per 1 mm of basement membrane.

Example 2: Role of cell extracts on IL-10 production

H. pylori is known to induce the production of IL-10 in various immune cell compartments {Sayi et al, 2011, J. Immunol, 186:878-890) and high gastric levels of IL-10 ensure H. pylori persistence and promote H. ?y/or/-specific immune tolerance (Arnold et al, 2011, supra).

In order to assess whether DCs produce IL-10 in response to H. pylori dead extract, cultured murine bone marrow-derived (BM) DCs were treated with increasing concentrations of dead cell extract prepared as described above. Indeed, BM-DCs produced and secreted large amounts of IL-10, and this was dependent on TLR2 and MyD88 signalling (Fig. 2A). A clear dose-dependent secretion of IL-10 could also be observed in human blood-derived DCs from six independent donors cultured with H. pylori dead cell extract (Fig. 2B). To address whether IL-10 is required for asthma protection conferred by dead extract tolerization two doses of IL-10 receptor (IL-1 Deneutralizing antibody were administered during the challenge phase of the protocol to mice that had either received dead cell extract from the neonatal period onwards and it was shown that IL-10 signalling was required for protection against asthma (Fig. 2C-F)

In summary, H. pylori dead cell extracts are able to induce IL-10 production in both murine and human DCs and the beneficial effects of dead cell extract treatment in allergic asthma depend on IL-10 signalling proficiency of the host.

Preparation of murine and human DCs and IL-10 ELISA

For generation of murine BM-DCs, bone marrow isolated from the hind legs of donor mice (BL/6 LR27", BL/6.TLR47", BL/6.MyD88"A mice, all from Jackson Labs) was seeded at 50.000 cells per well in 96 well plates in RPMI/10% FCS and 4 ng/ml GM-CSF and cultured for 5 days. DCs were stimulated with the indicated amounts of H. pylori PMSS1 extract prepared as described above for 16h and supernatants were subjected to mIL-10 ELISA (BD Pharmingen). Human monocyte-derived dendritic cells were generated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells as follows. Venous blood was drawn from 6 healthy volunteers according to protocols approved by the Institutional Review Board of Leiden University Medical Center. Cells were collected after density gradient centrifugation on Ficoll and CD 14+ monocytes were positively isolated by magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) using CD 14 microbeads (Miltenyi Biotec). Cells were cultured in RPMI-1640 (Invitrogen) supplemented with penicillin (100 U/ml, Astellas Pharma), streptomycin (100 μg/ml, Sigma), pyruvate (1 mM, Sigma), glutamate (2 mM, Sigma), 10% fetal calf serum (FCS), 20 ng/ml human

recombinant granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rGM-CSF, Invitrogen/Life Technologies), and 0.86 ng/ml human rIL-4 (R&D Systems) for 6 days. On day 3, the medium and the supplements were refreshed. Monocyte-derived DCs were stimulated with H. pylori dead cell extract for 48 hours. Secretion of IL-10 by the DCs in the supernatant was measured by ELISA (Sanquin).

The differential susceptibility to successful tolerization of neonates and adults may be attributable to the general tolerogenic bias of the immature neonatal immune system, with its higher Treg/T effector cell ratios and Treg-predominant responses to foreign antigens {Arnold et al, 2005, Trends Immunol 26:406-411). Parallel observations have been reported in humans: H. pylori-infected children, but not adults, are characterized by Treg-predominant gastric H. pylori-specific T-cell responses (Harris et al, 2008, Gastroenterology 134:491-4). Children benefit more from harboring H. pylori than adults in terms of their asthma risk (Chen et al, 2007, Arch Intern Med 167:821-827 ); similarly, early onset asthma in adolescents and young adults is more strongly inversely correlated with H. pylori seropositivity than adult-onset asthma (Chen et al, 2008, J. Infect. Dis., 198:553-560). The available epidemiological and experimental data thus suggest that childhood acquisition of H. pylori, and the Treg-predominant immune responses associated with early-life acquisition, mediate the reduced risks of asthma and other allergic disease manifestations by suppressing allergen-specific T-cell responses.

The data presented here imply that children at high risk of developing asthma are more likely than adults to benefit from tolerization strategies of the invention.

Example 3: Role of Vac A polypeptide and truncated variant thereof in purified form from the invention

In order to support that VacA in the form of a purified polypeptide might contribute alone to asthma protection conferred by extract tolerization, the protective properties of bacterial extracts (prepared as described above) from wild-type bacteria and a VacA" deficient isogenic mutants (as described above) were compared. Interestingly, mutant extracts were consistently less efficient than wild-type extract at protecting allergen-sensitized and -challenged mice against bronchoalveolar and pulmonary inflammation, eosinophilia and goblet cell metaplasia (Fig. 3 A-D). To examine whether VacA alone is sufficient to provide protection, oligomeric VacA purified from culture supematants of H. pylori as described above was intraperitoneally administered, once weekly from day 7 of age onwards. No adverse effects were observed in any of the mice, despite their young age at the time of the first doses. Strikingly, VacA provided a level of protection against asthma that was comparable to the protection conferred by extract treatment (Fig. 3A-D).

A negative control VacA deleted protein lacking an amino-terminal hydrophobic region of three tandem that are described as being essential for VacA's cytotoxic activity (Vinion-Dubiel et al, 1999, supra), i.e. of SEQ ID NO: 3 (Figure 5) fails to protect against asthma (Fig. 3A-D).

Example 4: Role of Vac A polypeptide in purified form from the invention at various concentrations and delivery routes

In order to elucidate the minimal effective dose, number of required doses and optimal delivery route, purified VacA prepared as described above was either administered intraperitoneally or intragastrically at various concentrations and intervals in mice as described above. 5 μg of VacA administered intraperitoneally in weekly intervals from age day 7 onwards until 2 weeks before challenge (as indicated by subscript "a" in Figure 4) was as effective as 20 μg of VacA at preventing bronchoalveolar inflammation and eosinophilia (Figure 4 A,B). Intragastrically (perorally, p.o.) administered VacA (again delivered weekly from day 7 until 2 weeks before challenge) also provided significant protection (Figure 4A,B). Three doses of intraperitoneally delivered VacA (delivered in weeks 1, 2 and 3 of life, denoted by subscript "b" in Figure 4) were insufficient to provide full protection (Figure 4A,B). Blocking IL-10 signaling with two doses of a neutralizing antibody delivered intraperitoneally during ovalbumin challenge abrogated protection (Figure 4A,B).

Those data support that, unexpectedly, the administration of VacA alone in purified form is able to induce asthma protection comparable to the whole cell extract and therefore may be administered in purified form to prevent allergic asthma,

These findings are particularly unexpected as it was believed that only live H. pylori extracts would exhibit the ability to induce Tregs and that VacA alone was not expected to be sufficient for asthma protection, since, in particular, mutants lacking the ggt gene have been observed of being incapable of colonizing mice persistently and this phenotype has been attributed to DC tolerization by GGT in vitro and in vivo (Oertli et al., 2013, supra).

Altogether those data show that asthma protection of compositions of the invention, were highly specific and was not conferred by extract from other gram-negative enteropathogens such as E. coli or Salmonella typhimurium. The treatment was particularly successful when initiated in young mice relative to adult mice. Therefore, VacA and compositions thereof can be exploited for therapeutic purposes as a viable tolerization strategy for asthma prevention and treatement in high-risk individuals.

Example 5: Role of H. pylori dead cell extract and of Vac A polypeptide of the invention in purified form in a preclinical model of food aller2V

In order to assess a protective effect of H. pylori whole cell extract or of purified VacA on the development of food allergy, mice were sensitized with two intraperitoneal doses of alum-adjuvanted ovalbumin prior to intragastric injection of ovalbumin as described below. Symptoms of food allergy were measured by clinical scoring and in serum by mast cell protease ELISA and ovalbumin- specific IgE and IgGl ELISA. Th2 cytokines were quantified in ovalbumin-restimulated MLN or spleen single cell cultures.

Mice were sensitized twice i.p. at 2 weekly intervals with alum-adjuvanted ovalbumin and challenged with intragastrically delivered ovalbumin on three consecutive days starting 2 weeks after the last sensitization. One group of mice received once-weekly doses of 200 μg H. pylori strain PMSS1 wild-type extract intragastrically from day 7 of age onwards ("extract p.o."). Another group received once-weekly doses of 20 μg of purified Hp VacA from H. pylori strain ATCC 49503/60190. All mice were observed for 40 min after the last challenge and scored with respect to scratching, puffiness of the eyes, mouth and nose and other symptoms of anaphylaxis such as described in Sun et al, 2007, J. Immunol., 179:6696-6703. The obtained scores are represented on Figure 6A. Ovalbumin-specific IgE and IgGl, and the mast cell protease MCPT1 were quantified in serum by ELISA and the corresponding levels are represented on Figures 6B to D. Splenocytes were re-stimulated with the above allergen for three days and the production and secretion of the Th2 cytokines IL-5 and IL-13 was measured by ELISA

and the corresponding levels are represented on Figures 6E and F). MCPT1 data are normalized to the negative controls. Pooled data from three studies are shown for all groups except for the VacA-treated group.

Altogether, those data obtained in a food allergy model strongly suggest protective effects of H. pylori extract as well as VacA protein treatment.