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Delivering genes
In the Literature.

Here, GNN highlights five papers about strategies for using viruses to deliver genes in human medicine. See related story Helping hamster hearts with a therapeutic gene.


Recombinant AAV vector encoding human VEGF165 enhances wound healing.

Delivery of therapeutic genes represents an appealing possibility to accelerate healing of wounds that are otherwise difficult to treat, such as those in patients with metabolic disorders or infections. Experimental evidence indicates that in such conditions potentiation of neo-angiogenesis at the wound site might represent an important therapeutic target. Here we explore the efficacy of gene therapy of wound healing with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector expressing the 165 amino acid isoform of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). By gene marker studies, we found that AAV vectors are highly efficient for gene transfer to the rat skin, displaying an exquisite tropism for the panniculus carnosus. Gene expression from these vectors is sustained and persistent over time. Delivery of VEGF165 to full thickness excisional wounds in rats resulted in remarkable induction of new vessel formation, with consequent reduction of the healing time. Histological examination of treated wounds revealed accelerated remodeling of epidermis and dermis, with formation of a thick granular layer, containing numerous newly formed capillaries, as well as vessels of larger size. These data underline the importance of neo-angiogenesis in the healing process and indicate that VEGF gene transfer might represent a novel approach to treat wound healing disorders.

Gene Ther 2002 Jun;9(12):777-85.

Central leptin gene therapy blocks high-fat diet-induced weight gain, hyperleptinemia, and hyperinsulinemia: increase in serum ghrelin levels.

Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV), encoding either rat leptin (rAAV-lep) or green fluorescent protein (rAAV-GFP, control), was injected intracerebroventricularly in rats consuming a high-fat diet (HFD; 45 kcal%). Caloric consumption and body weight were monitored weekly until the rats were killed at 9 weeks. Untreated control rats consuming regular rat diet (RCD; 11 kcal%) were monitored in parallel. Body weight gain was accelerated in rAAV-GFP + HFD control rats relative to those consuming RCD, despite equivalent kcal consumption. At 9 weeks, serum leptin, free fatty acids, triglycerides, and insulin were elevated in HFD control rats. In contrast, rAAV-lep treatment reduced intake and blocked the HFD-induced increase in weight, adiposity, and metabolic variables. Blood glucose was slightly reduced but within the normal range, and serum ghrelin levels were significantly elevated in rAAV-lep + HFD rats. Uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) mRNA in brown adipose tissue (BAT), an index of energy expenditure through nonshivering thermogenesis, was decreased in rats consuming HFD. Treatment with rAAV-lep significantly augmented BAT UCP1 mRNA expression, indicating increased thermogenic energy expenditure. These findings demonstrate that central leptin gene therapy efficiently prevents weight gain, increased adiposity, and hyperinsulinemia in rats consuming an HFD by decreasing energy intake and increasing thermogenic energy expenditure.

Diabetes 2002 Jun;51(6):1729-36.

Hot topics in adeno-associated virus as a gene transfer vector.

Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a promising viral vector in treating many kinds of hereditary diseases. The broad host range, low level of immune response, and longevity of gene expression observed with this vector have enabled the initiation of a number of clinical trials using this gene delivery system. Another potential benefit of AAV vectors is their ability to integrate site-specifically in the presence of Rep proteins. However, this virus is not well characterized. To obtain high level, persistent expression of the foreign gene, some problems should be solved. In this article, we will describe the advances in some fields of recombinant AAV technology that overcome certain limitations of the vector as a gene delivery system, such as the transduction efficiency, the production, the package capacity, and elimination of immune responses, as well as the applications involving these recombinant vectors for the treatment of some diseases.

Mol Biotechnol 2001 Nov;19(3):229-37.

Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.

The pursuit of an effective genetic therapy for cysticfibrosis (CF) has led to significant advances in the development of viral and non-viral vector systems. However, obstacles to clinically effective gene transfer in the diseased airways of CF patients remain. Ongoing gene transfer trials in humans are helping to better define those obstacles, some of which relate to host defense and some of which relate to inherent biological properties of the various gene transfer vector systems. In this review, the relevant aspects of airway biology, the pathophysiological CF lung disease, and the characteristics of the currently available vector systems are discussed.

Curr Opin Mol Ther 1999 Aug;1(4):510-6.

Gene therapy for hemophilia.

Hemophilia is a genetically inherited bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency of the blood clotting factors VIII (hemophilia A) or IX (hemophilia B). Hemophiliacs suffer prolonged bleeding which can be life threatening and often leads to chronic disabilities. Current hemophilia treatment involves infusions of plasma-derived or recombinant clotting factor in response to bleeding crises. Prophylactic treatment is not available and current treatments remain problematic. The development of a gene therapy for hemophilia has been under investigation for the past decade. An overview is presented of the initial efforts using retroviral and adenoviral vectors for ex vivo and in vivo gene delivery strategies, respectively. Recent progress in developing FIX and FVIII adeno-associated virus vectors is reviewed. Sustained expression of therapeutic levels of FIX and FVIII have been demonstrated in mice. Phenotypic correction of hemophilia B has been shown in the murine and dog models of disease. A phase I human clinical trial has been initiated involving intramuscular injection of FIX. Prospectsfor hemophilia gene therapy look bright and the hopefor a cure has now moved from the realm of the possible to the probable.

Curr Opin Mol Ther 1999 Aug;1(4):493-9.

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