Author(s): Copreni E, Penzo M, Carrabino S, Conese M
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Abstract Gene therapy of cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease needs highly efficient delivery and long-lasting complementation of the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) gene into the respiratory epithelium. The development of lentiviral vectors has been a recent advance in the field of gene transfer and therapy. These integrating vectors appear to be promising vehicles for gene delivery into respiratory epithelial cells by virtue of their ability to infect nondividing cells and mediate long-term persistence of transgene expression. Studies in human airway tissues and animal models have highlighted the possibility of achieving gene expression by lentiviral vectors, which outlasted the normal lifespan of the respiratory epithelium, indicating targeting of a 'stem cell' compartment. Modification of the paracellular permeability and pseudotyping with heterologous envelopes are the strategies currently used to overcome the paucity of specific viral receptors on the apical surface of airway epithelial cells and to reach the basolateral surface receptors. Preclinical studies on CF mice, demonstrating complementation of the CF defect, offer hope that lentivirus gene therapy can be translated into an effective treatment of CF lung disease. Besides a direct targeting of the stem/progenitor niche(s) in the CF airways, an alternative approach may envision homing of hematopoietic stem cells engineered to express the CFTR gene by lentiviral vectors. In the context of lentivirus-mediated CFTR gene transfer to the CF airways, biosafety aspects should be of primary concern.
This article was published in Gene Ther
and referenced in Advancements in Genetic Engineering