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Separating Fact from Fiction: Assessing the Potential of Modified Adenovirus Vectors for Use in Human Gene Therapy

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One of the major hurdles to successful gene therapy of genetic and / or acquired disease is the ability to efficiently introduce a foreign gene into the tissue of interest and, in the case of some genetic diseases, achieve long-term expression of the transgene. Due to their ability to transduce a wide variety of cell types in a cell-cycle independent fashion, adenovirus (Ad)-based vectors have received considerable attention in recent years as delivery vehicles for multiple gene therapy applications. Effective use of early “first-generation“ versions of these vectors was hampered by not only the induction of strong immune responses in the host to the Ad vector and transduced cells, but also to direct acute and chronic toxicity caused by the vector itself. Furthermore, transgene expression was typically transient, lasting only a few weeks. Despite these limitations, these vectors have been used in a number of human clinical trials, eliciting both interesting as well as controversial results, some of which are summarized herein.

Because of these limitations, a number of advances in adenovirus “vectorology”, manifested primarily as the development of multiply attenuated Ads and vectors deleted of all viral protein coding sequences, has resulted in vectors which retain all of the advantages of Ad vectors and, in addition, do not exhibit the deleterious characteristics associated with [E1-]deleted Ads. This review focuses on the current state of the art regarding the potential for human use of Ad-based vectors, and how the use of this vector continues to offer the potential for successful use as a gene delivery tool for the treatment of a great number of human genetic and non-genetic diseases.

Keywords: Adenovirus Vectors; Human Gene Therapy; Separating Fact

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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