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Lab Hematol. 2010 Sep;16(3):53-73. doi: 10.1532/LH96.10010.

Review: Stem cells and gene therapy.

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College of Applied Medical Sciences, Al-Kharj University, Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia.


Both stem cell and gene therapy research are currently the focus of intense research in institutions and companies around the world. Both approaches hold great promise by offering radical new and successful ways of treating debilitating and incurable diseases effectively. Gene therapy is an approach to treat, cure, or ultimately prevent disease by changing the pattern of gene expression. It is mostly experimental, but a number of clinical human trials have already been conducted. Gene therapy can be targeted to somatic or germ cells; the most common vectors are viruses. Scientists manipulate the viral genome and thus introduce therapeutic genes to the target organ. Viruses, in this context, can cause adverse events such as toxicity, immune and inflammatory responses, as well as gene control and targeting issues. Alternative modalities being considered are complexes of DNA with lipids and proteins. Stem cells are primitive cells that have the capacity to self renew as well as to differentiate into 1 or more mature cell types. Pluripotent embryonic stem cells derived from the inner cell mass can develop into more than 200 different cells and differentiate into cells of the 3 germ cell layers. Because of their capacity of unlimited expansion and pluripotency, they are useful in regenerative medicine. Tissue or adult stem cells produce cells specific to the tissue in which they are found. They are relatively unspecialized and predetermined to give rise to specific cell types when they differentiate. The current review provides a summary of our current knowledge of stem cells and gene therapy as well as their clinical implications and related therapeutic options.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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