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Gene Ther. 1996 Sep;3(9):797-801.

A demonstration using mouse models that successful gene therapy for cystic fibrosis requires only partial gene correction.

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MRC Human Genetics Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.


Quantifying the level of transgene expression necessary for phenotypic effect is an important consideration in designing somatic gene therapy protocols. A nonlinear relationship between phenotype and gene activity is predicted by control analysis for any autosomal recessive condition. The unaffected phenotype of heterozygotes for autosomal recessive disorders demonstrates that 50% of the normal level of gene expression is sufficient to prevent disease. By extension, an exaggerated and positive effect on the mutant phenotype is predicted to arise from only a small addition of normal transgene expression delivered by gene therapy. We tested this expectation directly by intercrossing mice carrying different Cftr alleles which modulate Cftr gene expression from 0 to 100%. We demonstrate that 5% of the normal level of Cftr gene expression results in a disproportionately large correction of the chloride ion transport defect (50% of normal) and essentially complete rescue of the intestinal disease (100% survival). It follows that even modest levels of transgene expression and only partial correction of CFTR channel activity may have a significant clinical impact.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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