Viral vector-mediated gene therapy has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years. Although the reasons for this progress are varied, a deeper understanding of the basic biology of the viruses, the identification of new and improved versions of viral vectors, and simply the vast experience gained by extensive testing in both animal models of disease and in clinical trials, have been key factors. Several studies have investigated the efficacy of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors in the mouse model of fragile X syndrome where AAVs have been used to express fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which is missing or highly reduced in the disorder. These studies have demonstrated a range of efficacies in different tests from full correction, to partial rescue, to no effect. Here we provide a backdrop of recent advances in AAV gene therapy as applied to central nervous system disorders, outline the salient features of the fragile X studies, and discuss several key issues for moving forward. Collectively, the findings to date from the mouse studies on fragile X syndrome, and data from clinical trials testing AAVs in other neurological conditions, indicate that AAV-mediated gene therapy could be a viable strategy for treating fragile X syndrome.
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