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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006 Jun;45(6):656-68. Epub 2006 Mar 1.

Gene therapy as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: innovative vectors and therapeutic genes.

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Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In recent years, significant progress has been made in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In addition to conventional therapy, novel biologicals targeting tumour necrosis factor-alpha have successfully entered the clinic. However, the majority of the patients still has some actively inflamed joints and some patients suffer from side-effects associated with the high systemic dosages needed to achieve therapeutic levels in the joints. In addition, due to of the short half-life of these proteins there is a need for continuous, multiple injections of the recombinant protein. An alternative approach might be the use of gene transfer to deliver therapeutic genes locally at the site of inflammation. Several viral and non-viral vectors are being used in animal models of RA. The first gene therapy trials for RA have already entered the clinic. New vectors inducing long-term and regulated gene expression in specific tissue are under development, resulting in more efficient gene transfer, for example by using distinct serotypes of viral vectors such as adeno-associated virus. This review gives an overview of some promising vectors used in RA research. Furthermore, several therapeutic genes are discussed that could be used for gene therapy in RA patients.

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