A strategy called targeted gene repair was developed to facilitate the process of gene therapy using a chimeric RNA-DNA oligonucleotide. Experiments demonstrated the feasibility of using the chimeric oligonucleotide to introduce point conversion in genes in vitro and in vivo. However, barriers exist in the low and/or inconstant frequency of gene repair. To overcome this difficulty, three main aspects should be considered. One is designing a more effective structure of the oligonucleotide. Trials have included lengthening the homologous region, displacing the mismatch on the chimeric strand and inventing a novel thioate-modified single-stranded DNA, which was demonstrated to be more active than the primary chimera in cell-free extracts. The second aspect is optimizing the delivery system. Producing synthetic carriers for efficient and specific transfection is demanding, especially for treatment in vivo where targeting is difficult. The third and most important aspect lies in the elucidation of the mechanism of the strategy. Investigation of the mechanism of strand exchange between the oligonucleotide molecule and double-stranded DNA in prokaryotes may greatly help to understand the mechanism of gene repair in eukaryotes. The development of this strategy holds great potential for the treatment of genetic defects and other purposes.
Copyright 2001 National Science Council, ROC and S. Karger AG, Basel