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Hum Mol Genet. 2006 Oct 15;15 Spec No 2:R253-61.

Challenges and opportunities in dystrophin-deficient cardiomyopathy gene therapy.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Missouri School of Medicine, One Hospital Dr., Room M610G, MSB Columbia, MO 65212, USA.


The last decade has evidenced unprecedented progress in gene therapy of Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DMD and BMD) skeletal muscle disease. Cardiomyopathy is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in both patients and carriers of DMD, BMD and X-linked dilated cardiomyopathy. However, there is little advance in heart gene therapy. The gene, the vector, vector delivery, the target tissue and animal models are five fundamental components in developing an effective gene therapy. Intensive effort has been made in optimizing gene transfer vectors and methods. Systemic and/or local delivery of recombinant adeno-associated viral vector have resulted in widespread transduction in the rodent heart. The current challenge is to define other parameters that are essential for a successful gene therapy such as the best candidate gene(s), the optimal expression level and the target tissue. This review focuses on these long-ignored aspects and points out future research directions. In particular, we need to address whether all or only some of the recently developed mini- and microgenes are protective in the heart, whether partial correction can lead to whole heart function improvement, whether over-expression is hazardous and whether correcting skeletal muscle disease can slow down or stop the progression of cardiomyopathy. Discussion is also made on whether the current mouse models can meet these research needs.

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