The loss of bone tissue represents a critical clinical condition that is frequently faced by surgeons. Substantial progress has been made in the area of bone research, providing insight into the biology of bone under physiological and pathological conditions, as well as tools for the stimulation of bone regeneration. The present review discusses recent advances in the field of gene-enhanced bone tissue engineering. Gene transfer strategies have emerged as highly effective tissue engineering approaches for supporting the repair of the musculoskeletal system. By contrast to treatment with recombinant proteins, genetically engineered cells can release growth factors at the site of injury over extended periods of time. Of particular interest are the expedited technologies that can be applied during a single surgical procedure in a cost-effective manner, allowing translation from bench to bedside. Several promising methods based on the intra-operative genetic manipulation of autologous cells or tissue fragments have been developed in preclinical studies. Moreover, gene therapy for bone regeneration has entered the clinical stage with clinical trials for the repair of alveolar bone. Current trends in gene-enhanced bone engineering are also discussed with respect to the movement of the field towards expedited, translational approaches. It is possible that gene-enhanced bone tissue engineering will become a clinical reality within the next few years.
Keywords: bone regeneration; clinical trials; expedited approach; gene therapy; growth factors.
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