Physiological and tissue-specific vectors for treatment of inherited diseases

Gene Ther. 2011 Feb;18(2):117-27. doi: 10.1038/gt.2010.138. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


After more than 1500 gene therapy clinical trials in the past two decades, the overall conclusion is that for gene therapy (GT) to be successful, the vector systems must still be improved in terms of delivery, expression and safety. The recent development of more efficient and stable vector systems has created great expectations for the future of GT. Impressive results were obtained in three primary immunodeficiencies and other inherited diseases such as congenital blindness, adrenoleukodystrophy or junctional epidermolysis bullosa. However, the development of leukemia in five children included in the GT clinical trials for X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency and the silencing of the therapeutic gene in the chronic granulomatous disease clearly showed the importance of improving safety and efficiency. In this review, we focus on the main strategies available to achieve physiological or tissue-specific expression of therapeutic transgenes and discuss the importance of controlling transgene expression to improve safety. We propose that tissue-specific and/or physiological viral vectors offer the best balance between efficiency and safety and will be the tools of choice for future clinical trials in GT of inherited diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endothelium
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / therapy*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Humans
  • Liver
  • MicroRNAs
  • Organ Specificity
  • Targeted Gene Repair / methods
  • Transgenes


  • MicroRNAs