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Caffeine energizes cells, boosting virus production for gene therapy applications

Give caffeine to cells engineered to produce viruses used for gene therapy and the cells can generate 3- to 8-times more virus, according to a paper published in Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( The paper is available free online at

This simple and inexpensive strategy for increasing lentivirus production was developed by Brian Ellis, Patrick Ryan Potts, and Matthew Porteus, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. In their paper, "Creating Higher Titer Lentivirus with Caffeine," they emphasize that the timing of caffeine addition to standard lentiviral production protocols is important for achieving higher virus titers. Caffeine concentration is also critical, as too much caffeine was toxic to the cells and did not increase virus production.

Lentivirus vectors are commonly used for transferring genes into cells for both research applications in the laboratory and, increasingly, for gene therapy procedures in clinical testing. The addition of caffeine "should significantly decrease the cost of lentiviral production for research and clinical uses," conclude the authors.

"It is ironic that the ingredient in beverages like colas and coffees that helps keep us awake and alert is also useful in jazzing up cells to produce more gene therapy vectors. An increase in vector production of 5-fold may prove critical in establishing the commercial viability of lentiviral based products," says James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, and Director of the Gene Therapy Program, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Human Gene Therapy, the Official Journal of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, British Society for Gene Therapy, French Society of Cell and Gene Therapy, German Society of Gene Therapy, and five other gene therapy societies is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly in print and online that presents reports on the transfer and expression of genes in mammals, including humans. Related topics include improvements in vector development, delivery systems, and animal models, particularly in the areas of cancer, heart disease, viral disease, genetic disease, and neurological disease, as well as ethical, legal, and regulatory issues related to the gene transfer in humans. Tables of content and a free sample issue may be viewed online at

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc (, is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Tissue Engineering, Stem Cells and Development, Cellular Reprogramming, and a new peer-reviewed publication to be launched in March 2011, Journal of Caffeine Research. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 140 Huguenot St., New Rochelle, NY 10801-5215

Phone: (914) 740-2100 (800) M-LIEBERT Fax: (914) 740-2101

Vicki Cohn | EurekAlert!
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