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Gene Ther. 2002 Dec;9(24):1647-52.

Gene therapy progress and prospects: nonviral vectors.

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Center for Pharmacogenetics, School of Pharmacy, 633 Salk Hall, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


The success of gene therapy is largely dependent on the development of the gene delivery vector. Recently, gene transfection into target cells using naked DNA, which is a simple and safe approach, has been improved by combining several physical techniques, for example, electroporation, gene gun, ultrasound and hydrodynamic pressure. Chemical approaches have been utilized to improve the efficiency and cell specificity of gene transfer. Novel gene carrier molecules, which facilitate DNA escape from the endosome into the cytosol, have been developed. Several functional polymers, which enable controlled release of DNA in response to an environmental change, have also been reported. Plasmids with reduced number of CpG motifs, the use of PCR fragments and the sequential injection method have been established for the reduction of immune response triggered by plasmid DNA. Construction of a long-lasting gene expression system is also an important theme for nonviral gene therapy. To date, tissue-specific expression, self-replicating and integrating plasmid systems have been reported. Improvement of delivery methods together with intelligent design of the DNA itself has brought about large degrees of enhancement in the efficiency, specificity and temporal control of nonviral vectors.

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