The use of gene therapy (GT) for the treatment of primary immune deficiencies (PID) including severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) has progressed significantly in the recent years. In particular, long-term studies have shown that adenosine deaminase (ADA) gene delivery into ADA-deficient hematopoietic stem cells that are then transplanted into the patients corrects the abnormal function of the ADA enzyme, which leads to immune reconstitution. In contrast, the outcome was disappointing for patients with X-linked SCID, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and chronic granulomatous disease who received GT followed by autologous gene corrected transplantations, as many developed hematological malignancies. The malignancies were attributed to the predilection of the viruses used for gene delivery to integrated at oncogenic areas. The availability of safer and more efficient self-inactivating lentiviruses for gene delivery has reignited the interest in GT for many PID that are now in various stages of pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. Moreover, advances in early diagnosis of PID and gene editing technology coupled with enhanced abilities to generate and manipulate stem cells ex vivo are expected to further contribute to the benefit of GT for PID. Here we review the past, the present and the future of GT for PID, with particular emphasis on the Canadian perspective.
Keywords: Adenosine deaminase deficiency; Canada; Gene therapy; Insertional mutagenesis; Lentivirus; Primary immunodeficiency.