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Hum Gene Ther. 2010 Mar;21(3):241-50. doi: 10.1089/hum.2010.014.

Clinical impact of suicide gene therapy in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, Division of Regenerative Medicine, Gene Therapy, and Stem Cells, Program in Immunology, Gene Therapy, and Bioimmunotherapy of Cancer, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, 20132 Milan, Italy.


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) from an HLA-matched related or unrelated donor is a curative option for patients with high-risk hematological diseases. In the absence of a matched donor, patients have been offered investigational transplantation strategies such as umbilical cord blood SCT or family haploidentical SCT. Besides the activity of the conditioning regimen, most of the antileukemic potential of allo-SCT relies on alloreactivity, promoted by donor lymphocytes reacting against patient-specific antigens, such as minor and major histocompatibility antigens, ultimately translating into cancer immunotherapy. Unfortunately, alloreactivity is also responsible for the most serious and frequent complication of allo-SCT: graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD). The risk of GvHD increases with the level of HLA disparity between host and donor, and leads to impaired quality of life and reduced survival expectancy, particularly among patients receiving transplants from HLA-mismatched donors. Gene transfer technologies are promising tools to manipulate donor T cell immunity to enforce the graft-versus-tumor effect, to promote functional immune reconstitution (graft vs. infection), and to prevent or control GvHD. To this purpose, several cell and gene transfer approaches have been investigated at the preclinical level, and are being implemented in clinical trials. Suicide gene therapy is to date the most extensive clinical application of T cell-based gene therapy. In several phase I-II clinical studies conducted worldwide this approach proved highly feasible, safe, and effective in promoting a dynamic and patient-specific modulation of alloreactivity. This review focuses on this approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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