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Cancer Gene Ther. 2002 Aug;9(8):692-9.

Viruses as gene delivery vectors: application to gene function, target validation, and assay development.

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Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, UPMC Health System, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


A Biochemical Pharmacology Discussion Group Conference, was held at the headquarters of the New York Academy of Sciences on December 4, 2001 as part of an ongoing series designed to highlight and review areas important to modern drug development (Figure 1). Briefly introduced by Tom Kost (GlaxoSmithKline) and Michael Lotze (University of Pittsburgh), the focus was on the intersection of genomics, proteomics, and now "viromics." The latter term refers to the use of viruses and viral gene transfer to explore the complexity arising from the vast array of new targets available from the human and murine genomes. Indeed, access to large numbers of genes using viral vectors is a key tool for drug discovery and drug delivery. With 38,000 genes identified within the human genome, only 5000 are considered readily druggable. Generating tools such as these to validate targets represents a major part of the armamentarium of the postgenomic scientist. During the last 12 years alone, there have been over 26,000 publications on virus vectors. Many of them have been found useful in target validation, assay development, and evaluation in in vivo models and gene therapy. Thus, there is now an extensive knowledge base for several viral vectors, with unique attributes within each of them providing versatility, efficiency, and ease of use. The individual scientists presenting at the meeting illustrated many of the unique and useful characteristics of such vector systems including retrovirus, adenovirus, herpes virus, simbis virus, and baculovirus.

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