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Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2006 Dec;6(12):1279-94.

AAV-mediated gene transfer for retinal diseases.

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Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM), Via P. Castellino, 111. 80131 Napoli, Italy.


Vectors based on the adeno-associated virus (rAAV) are able to transduce the retina of animal models, including non-human primates, for a long-term period, safely and at sustained levels. The ability of the various rAAV serotypes to transduce retinal target cells has been exploited to successfully transfer genes to photoreceptors, retinal pigment epithelium and the inner retina, which are affected in many inherited and non-inherited blinding diseases. rAAV-mediated, constitutive and regulated gene expression at therapeutic levels has been achieved in the retina of animal models, thus providing proof-of-principle of gene therapy efficacy and safety in models of dominant and recessive retinal disorders. In addition, gene transfer of molecules with either neurotrophic or antiangiogenic properties provides useful alternatives to the classic gene replacement for treatment of both mendelian and complex traits affecting the retina. Years of successful rAAV-mediated gene transfer to the retina have resulted in restoration of vision in dogs affected with congenital blindness. This has paved the way to the first attempts at treating inherited retinal diseases in humans with rAAV. Although the results of rAAV clinical trials for non-retinal diseases give a warning that the outcome of viral-mediated gene transfer in humans may be different from that predicted based on results in other species, the immune privilege of the retina combined with the versatility of rAAV serotypes may ultimately provide the first successful treatment of human inherited diseases using rAAV.

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