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Clin Exp Immunol. 1997 Jan;107 Suppl 1:54-7.

Gene therapy for haematopoietic and lymphoid disorders.

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Division of Research Immunology/Bone Marrow Transplantation, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA.


Gene transfer into haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) has been investigated for treatment of genetic disorders, conferral of chemotherapy resistance and insertion of genes to inhibit HIV-1 replication. Methods have been available for almost a decade to transduce murine HSC using high-titre retroviral vectors and stimulation of HSC proliferation with cytokines such as IL-3 and IL-6. Unfortunately, attempts to replicate the high efficiency of gene transfer using canine or simian gene transfer/bone marrow transplantation models have consistently shown that only a small fraction (0.1-1%) of reconstituting HSC are transduced using protocols similar to those which are successful in murine models. Initial clinical trials using retroviral-mediated gene transfer into human HSC also produced minimal transduction frequencies. The dicotomous results may reflect differences in the cell cycle kinetics of murine HSC versus those of larger mammals or the density of receptors for the retroviral vectors on the cells. Attempts to increase the fraction of HSC which are in active cell cycle, a prerequisite for retroviral-mediated transduction, have used either combinations of recombinant cytokines, culture on marrow stromal layers, or alternative sources for HSC, such as mobilized peripheral blood stem cells or umbilical cord blood. Other efforts have used retroviral vectors packaged with either the Gibbon Ape Leukemia virus envelope or the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus G protein. To date, none of these methods has produced a significantly increased frequency of long-term reconstituting HSC. Results using adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based vectors for HSC transduction have been conflicting, with the stable persistence of non-integrated virus particles making interpretation of results difficult using in vitro assays. Therefore, clinical trials may best be directed toward disorders that may benefit from a small fraction of genetically corrected HSC. These would include disorders where progeny of corrected HSC would be expected to have a selective survival advantage (e.g. SCID, WAS, HIV, chemoresistance) or where a small fraction of corrected cells can have a direct clinical benefit (e.g. CGD, MPS). Further basic research into HSC biology and gene delivery vectors must continue for wider application, such as haemoglobinopathies and some lysosomal storage diseases.

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