Advances In Genetics
Adv Genet. 2005;54:291-314.
Given both the accessibility and the genetic basis of several pulmonary diseases, the lungs and airways initially seemed ideal candidates for gene therapy. Several routes of access are available, many of which have been refined and optimized for nongene drug delivery. Two respiratory diseases, cystic fibrosis (CF) and alpha1-antitrypsin (alpha1-AT) deficiency, are relatively common; the single gene responsible has been identified and current treatment strategies are not curative. This type of inherited disease was the obvious initial target for gene therapy, but it has become clear that nongenetic and acquired diseases, including cancer, may also be amenable to this approach. The majority of preclinical and clinical studies in the airway have involved viral vectors, although for diseases such as CF, likely to require repeated application, non-viral delivery systems have clear advantages. However, with both approaches a range of barriers to gene expression have been identified that are limiting success in the airway and alveolar region. This chapter reviews these issues, strategies aimed at overcoming them, and progress into clinical trials with non-viral vectors in a variety of pulmonary diseases.