Gene therapy of liver diseases
Prieto J, Qian C, Hernandez-Alcoceba R, Gonzalez-Aseguinolaza G, Mazzolini G, Sangro B, Kramer MG.
Department of Internal Medicine, Clinica Universitaria de Navarra, Avda. Pio XII 36, 31008 Pamplona, Spain.
Many liver diseases lack satisfactory treatment and alternative therapeutic options are urgently needed. Gene therapy is a new mode of treatment for both inherited and acquired diseases, based on the transfer of genetic material to the tissues.
Genes are incorporated into appropriate vectors in order to facilitate their entrance and function inside the target cells. Gene therapy vectors can be constructed on the basis of viral or non-viral molecular structures. Viral vectors are frequently used, due to their higher transduction efficiency. Both the type of vector and the expression cassette determine the duration, specificity and inducibility of gene expression. A considerable number of preclinical studies indicate that a great variety of liver diseases, including inherited metabolic defects, chronic viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and primary and metastatic liver cancer, are amenable to gene therapy. Gene transfer to the liver can also be used to convert this organ into a factory of secreted proteins needed to treat conditions that do not affect the liver itself.
Clinical trials of gene therapy for the treatment of inherited diseases and liver cancer have been initiated but human gene therapy is still in its infancy. Recent progress in vector technology and imaging techniques, allowing in vivo assessment of gene expression, will facilitate the development of clinical applications of gene therapy.
CITATION Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2004 Jul;4(7):1073-91