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J Biotechnol. 1999 Feb 5;68(1):1-13.

In pursuit of new developments for gene therapy of human diseases.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology, University of Padova, Italy.


Gene therapy aims at transferring a therapeutic gene into human somatic cells in order to treat a disease. Originally addressed to hereditary genetic disorders, gene therapy has found therapeutic applications in cancer, infectious diseases and degenerative disorders, particularly those of the nervous system. Although gene transfer into humans has been demonstrated in several clinical trials, with more than 300 currently underway worldwide, there is still no single outcome that undoubtedly showed a consistent benefit for the patient. Nevertheless, the expectations for gene therapy are still high, and the prospects of future clinical success are increasing together with the growing of the field. The development of better delivery systems specifically tailored to individual diseases, with sustained expression of the therapeutic gene in the appropriate cells, will in the end make possible true therapeutic applications of human gene transfer.

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