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Viruses 2009, 1(1), 13-25; doi:10.3390/v1010013
Alphaviruses in Gene Therapy
Received: 2 April 2009 / Revised: 15 April 2009 / Accepted: 20 April 2009 / Published: 21 April 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Viral Vector Systems for Gene Therapy)
Abstract: Alphaviruses are enveloped single stranded RNA viruses, which as gene therapy vectors provide high-level transient gene expression. Semliki Forest virus (SFV), Sindbis virus (SIN) and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) virus have been engineered as efficient replication-deficient and -competent expression vectors. Alphavirus vectors have frequently been used as vehicles for tumor vaccine generation. Moreover, SFV and SIN vectors have been applied for intratumoral injections in animals implanted with tumor xenografts. SIN vectors have demonstrated natural tumor targeting, which might permit systemic vector administration. Another approach for systemic delivery of SFV has been to encapsulate replication-deficient viral particles in liposomes, which can provide passive targeting to tumors and allow repeated administration without host immune responses. This approach has demonstrated safe delivery of encapsulated SFV particles to melanoma and kidney carcinoma patients in a phase I trial. Finally, the prominent neurotropism of alphaviruses make them attractive for the treatment of CNS-related diseases.
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