"This trial demonstrates that gene therapy is no longer limited by the viruses we find in nature, and should usher in the next generation of viral delivery systems for human gene transfer," said senior study author R. Jude Samulski, PhD, professor of pharmacology and director of the Gene Therapy Center at UNC. The study appears online in the Nov. 8, 2011 issue of the journal Molecular Therapy.
Through gene therapy, scientists treat diseases by correcting a patient's faulty genes. Most of the time, this approach involves commandeering a natural system for infecting and introducing new genes into cells; thus, the virus. But even though there are lots of relatively innocuous viruses available for this purpose, none of them are perfectly suited for gene therapy.
Rather than rely on nature, Samulski and his colleagues decided to engineer their dream gene therapy virus in the laboratory. First they chose the adeno-associated virus or AAV, a small nonpathogenic virus that most humans are exposed to at some point in life. They then took their favorite attributes from different forms of AAV – such as AAV type 1's ability to sneak into muscle, and AAV type 2's safe track record – and combined them into one "chimeric" virus. In the first trial of this form of gene therapy, the investigators gave six boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) this new virus. An x-linked inherited disorder, DMD affects one in 4,000 newborn boys.
The virus was engineered to contain the dystrophin gene, which is missing in patients with muscular dystrophy and is the ultimate cause of the disease's progressive muscle weakness. The replacement genes were injected into the bicep in one arm and a placebo was injected into the other arm of each of the patients. The researchers were able to detect the new genes in all of the patients treated with the gene therapy, but no immunological response.
As they move on to the next phase of clinical trials, Samulski says they are carefully considering how best to administer the gene therapy vectors to patients. Delivering enough replacement genes to a therapeutic effect could require larger doses of virus, which in turn could elicit an unwanted immune response. So the researchers are exploring a number of different options, including using a new high pressure technique developed by William J. Powers, MD, professor and chair of neurology at UNC, reported last July in the same journal, to get the virus into muscle at lower doses.
Study co-authors from UNC include Dawn E. Bowles, PhD; Scott W.J. McPhee, PhD, MPH; Chengwen Li, PhD; Steven J. Gray, PhD; Jade J. Samulski, Angelique S. Camp, Juan Li, MD; Bing Wang, Paul E. Monahan, MD; Joshua C. Grieger, PhD; and Xiao Xiao, PhD.
The UNC research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a grant from the Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystropy Cooperative Research Center funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Les Lang | EurekAlert!
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy