Working in mice, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report developing a gene delivery method long sought in the field of gene therapy: a deactivated virus carrying a gene of interest that can be injected into the bloodstream and make its way to the right cells.
In this early proof-of-concept study, the scientists have shown that they can target tumor blood vessels in mice without affecting healthy tissues.
“Most current gene therapies in humans involve taking cells out of the body, modifying them and putting them back in,” said David T. Curiel, MD, PhD, distinguished professor of radiation oncology. “This limits gene therapy to conditions affecting tissues like the blood or bone marrow that can be removed, treated and returned to the patient. Today, even after 30 years of research, we can’t inject a viral vector to deliver a gene and have it go to the right place.”