Clinical trials represent a critical avenue for new treatment development, where early phases (I, I/II) are designed to test safety and effectiveness of new therapeutics or diagnostic indicators. A number of recent advances have spurred renewed optimism toward initiating clinical trials and developing refined therapies for the muscular dystrophies (MD's) and other myogenic disorders. MD's encompass a heterogeneous group of degenerative disorders often characterized by progressive muscle weakness and fragility. Many of these diseases result from mutations in genes encoding proteins of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC). The most common and severe form among children is Duchenne muscular dystrophy, caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, with an average life expectancy around 25 years of age. Another group of MD's referred to as the limb-girdle muscular dystrophies (LGMDs) can affect boys or girls, with different types caused by mutations in different genes. Mutation of the α-sarcoglycan gene, also a DGC component, causes LGMD2D and represents the most common form of LGMD. Early preclinical and clinical trial findings support the feasibility of gene therapy via recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors as a viable treatment approach for many MDs. In this mini-review, we present an overview of recent progress in clinical gene therapy trials of the MD's and touch upon promising preclinical advances.
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