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ISRN Oncol. 2012;2012:616310. doi: 10.5402/2012/616310. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

Development of safer gene delivery systems to minimize the risk of insertional mutagenesis-related malignancies: a critical issue for the field of gene therapy.

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  • 1Department of Biology, College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Bio-Life Science Building, Suite 456, 1900 N. 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.


Integrating gene delivery systems allow for a more stable transgene expression in mammalian cells than the episomal ones. However, the integration of the shuttle vector within the cellular chromosomal DNA is associated with the risk of insertional mutagenesis, which, in turn, may cause malignant cell transformation. The use of a retroviral-derived vector system was responsible for the development of leukemia in five children, who participated in various clinical trials for the treatment of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID-X1) in France and in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the hematological malignancy claimed the life of one patient in 2004, who was enrolled in the French clinical trial. In addition, adeno-associated-viral-(AAV-) mediated gene transfer induced tumors in animal models, whereas the Sleeping Beauty (SB) DNA transposon system was associated with insertional mutagenesis events in cell culture systems. On these grounds, it is necessary to develop safer gene delivery systems for the genetic manipulation of mammalian cells. This paper discusses the latest achievements that have been reported in the field of vector design.

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