Indexed on: 13 May '11Published on: 13 May '11Published in: Gene Therapy
As an alternative to recombinant protein administration, ex vivo gene-modified cells may provide a novel strategy for systemic delivery of therapeutic proteins. This approach has been used in preclinical and clinical studies of a plethora of pathological conditions, including anemia, hemophilia and cancer for the production of erythropoietin, coagulation factors, immunostimulatory cytokines, recombinant antibodies and angiogenesis inhibitors. Cell delivery vehicles may also be varied: autologous or allogeneic, precursor or terminally differentiated cells, with targeting properties or immobilized in immunoprotective devices. This field did not meet the expectation raised initially, mainly because of difficulties with obtaining therapeutic plasma levels and the short lifespan of producer cells that hampered clinical application. Different non-hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells have emerged as potential delivery vehicles, since they are easy to obtain, expand and transduce, and they exhibit prolonged lifespans (with mesenchymal stem cells probably being the most popular cell type, but not the only one). Special emphasis is placed on the different routes used to deliver these cellular vehicles and the controversies about their targeting abilities.