Special Issue "New Paradigm of Gene Therapy"

A special issue of Pharmaceutics (ISSN 1999-4923).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2015).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Keiji Itaka
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratory of Clinical Biotechnology, Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Interests: Gene delivery systems using a platform of nanomicelles, self-assemble of block copolymers; Clinical applications of novel drug

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Gene therapy is defined as introducing genetic information for therapeutic purposes. Besides conventional usage, such as protein-replacement therapies, in many medical fields, the applications have been widely expanding from vaccination against infectious diseases or cancer, and “gene” editing using the cutting-edge technologies of ZFN, TALENs, and CRISPR–Cas9. Cell therapy combined with ex vivo gene introduction is also an exciting field. The Special Issue of Pharmaceutics on “New paradigm of gene therapy” will address diverse areas related to gene therapy, including nucleic acids preparation (DNA, RNA), delivery systems, administration technique, and proof-of-concept studies using animal models. Original research papers or review articles on any of these aspects are welcomed for this Special Issue.

Keiji Itaka
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (14 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to Special Issue: A New Paradigm of Gene Therapy
Pharmaceutics 2016, 8(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics8010001 - 05 Jan 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
Gene therapy is defined as introducing genetic information for therapeutic purposes. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Enhancement of Blood–Brain Barrier Permeability and Delivery of Antisense Oligonucleotides or Plasmid DNA to the Brain by the Combination of Bubble Liposomes and High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 344-362; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030344 - 21 Sep 2015
Cited by 18
Abstract
The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a major obstacle that prevents therapeutic drugs or genes from being delivered to the central nervous system. Therefore, it is important to develop methods to enhance the permeability of the BBB. We have developed echo-contrast gas (C3 [...] Read more.
The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a major obstacle that prevents therapeutic drugs or genes from being delivered to the central nervous system. Therefore, it is important to develop methods to enhance the permeability of the BBB. We have developed echo-contrast gas (C3F8) entrapping liposomes (Bubble liposomes, BLs) that can work as a gene delivery tool in combination with ultrasound (US) exposure. Here, we studied whether the permeability of the BBB can be enhanced by the combination of BLs and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). Mice were intravenously injected with Evans blue (EB). BLs were subsequently injected, and the right hemispheres were exposed to HIFU. As a result, the accumulation of EB in the HIFU-exposed brain hemispheres was increased over that observed in the non-HIFU-exposed hemispheres, depending on the intensity and the duration of the HIFU. Similarly, the combination of BLs and HIFU allowed fluorescent-labeled antisense oligonucleotides to be delivered into the HIFU-exposed left hemispheres of the treated mice. Furthermore, a firefly luciferase-expressing plasmid DNA was delivered to the brain by the combination method of BLs and HIFU, which resulted in the increased gene expression in the brain at the focused-US exposure site. These results suggest that the method of combining BLs and HIFU together serves as a useful means for accelerating the permeability of BBB and thereby enabling antisense oligonucleotides or genes to be delivered to the focused brain site. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessCommunication
Site-Specific Impact of a Regional Hydrodynamic Injection: Computed Tomography Study during Hydrodynamic Injection Targeting the Swine Liver
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 334-343; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030334 - 16 Sep 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
A hemodynamic study of hydrodynamic gene delivery (HGD) from the tail vein in rodents has inspired a mechanism and an approach to further improve the efficacy of this procedure. However, there is no report on the hemodynamics of a regional HGD, which is [...] Read more.
A hemodynamic study of hydrodynamic gene delivery (HGD) from the tail vein in rodents has inspired a mechanism and an approach to further improve the efficacy of this procedure. However, there is no report on the hemodynamics of a regional HGD, which is an inevitable approach in large animals. Here, we report the hemodynamics of a regional hydrodynamic injection in detail based on 3D volume data and the dynamism of tissue intensity over time by using computed tomography (CT) both during and after a regional hydrodynamic injection that targeted the liver of a pig weighing 15.6 kg. Contrast medium (CM) was injected at a steady speed of 20 mL/s for 7.5 s under the temporal balloon occlusion of the hepatic vein (HV). A retrograde flow formed a wedge-shaped strong enhancement area downstream of the corresponding HV within 2.5 s, which was followed by drainage into another HV beginning from the target area and the portal vein (PV) toward a non-target area of the liver. After the injection, the CM was readily eliminated from the PV outside the target area. These data suggest that an interventional radiology approach is effective in limiting the hydrodynamic impacts in large animals at a target area and that the burden overflowing into the PV is limited. A further investigation that simultaneously evaluates gene delivery efficiency and hemodynamics using CT is needed to establish feasible parameters for a regional HGD in large animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Optimization of a siRNA Carrier Modified with a pH-Sensitive Cationic Lipid and a Cyclic RGD Peptide for Efficiently Targeting Tumor Endothelial Cells
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 320-333; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030320 - 14 Sep 2015
Cited by 13
Abstract
In recent years, anti-angiogenic therapy has attracted much interest because it is a versatile approach to treating most types of tumors, and therefore would be expected to be applicable for various cancers. Severe adverse events in patients treated with currently available anti-angiogenic therapeutics [...] Read more.
In recent years, anti-angiogenic therapy has attracted much interest because it is a versatile approach to treating most types of tumors, and therefore would be expected to be applicable for various cancers. Severe adverse events in patients treated with currently available anti-angiogenic therapeutics have, however, been reported, and these are caused by their inhibitory effects in normal tissue. To achieve an efficient anti-angiogenic therapy with minimal toxicity, a drug delivery system (DDS) specific to tumor endothelial cells (TECs) is needed. Cyclic RGD (cRGD) is a well-known ligand against αVβ3 integrin that is expressed at high levels in the cell surface of TECs. To address this issue, we previously developed a cyclic RGD-equipped liposomal DDS (RGD-MEND) in which small interfering RNA (siRNA) was encapsulated. However, in the previous study, details of the preparation steps were not thoroughly examined. In this paper, to produce the most efficient delivery of therapeutic TECs, we explored optimum preparation conditions and components of the RGD-MEND. The cellular uptake and silencing ability of the RGD-MEND were investigated as a function of ligand density, poly(ethyleneglycol) linker length, and lipid composition. As a result, a knockdown efficiency that was five-fold higher than that of the previously reported one (ED50, from 4.0 to 0.75 mg/kg) was achieved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Topical Anti-Nuclear Factor-Kappa B Small Interfering RNA with Functional Peptides Containing Sericin-Based Hydrogel for Atopic Dermatitis
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 294-304; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030294 - 07 Sep 2015
Cited by 13
Abstract
The small interfering RNA (siRNA) is suggested to offer a novel means of treating atopic dermatitis (AD) because it allows the specific silencing of genes related to AD pathogenesis. In our previous study, we found that siRNA targeted against RelA, an important nuclear [...] Read more.
The small interfering RNA (siRNA) is suggested to offer a novel means of treating atopic dermatitis (AD) because it allows the specific silencing of genes related to AD pathogenesis. In our previous study, we found that siRNA targeted against RelA, an important nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) subdomain, with functional peptides, showed therapeutic effects in a mouse model of AD. In the present study, to develop a topical skin application against AD, we prepared a hydrogel containing anti-RelA siRNA and functional peptides and determined the intradermal permeation and the anti-AD effects in an AD mouse model. We selected the silk protein, sericin (SC), which is a versatile biocompatible biomaterial to prepare hydrogel as an aqueous gel base. We found that the siRNA was more widely delivered to the site of application in AD-induced ear skin of mice after topical application via the hydrogel containing functional peptides than via the preparation without functional peptides. In addition, the ear thickness and clinical skin severity of the AD-induced mice treated with hydrogel containing anti-RelA siRNA with functional peptides improved more than that of mice treated with the preparation formulated with negative siRNA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Development of Biodegradable Polycation-Based Inhalable Dry Gene Powders by Spray Freeze Drying
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 233-254; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030233 - 26 Aug 2015
Cited by 19
Abstract
In this study, two types of biodegradable polycation (PAsp(DET) homopolymer and PEG-PAsp(DET) copolymer) were applied as vectors for inhalable dry gene powders prepared by spray freeze drying (SFD). The prepared dry gene powders had spherical and porous structures with a 5~10-μm diameter, and [...] Read more.
In this study, two types of biodegradable polycation (PAsp(DET) homopolymer and PEG-PAsp(DET) copolymer) were applied as vectors for inhalable dry gene powders prepared by spray freeze drying (SFD). The prepared dry gene powders had spherical and porous structures with a 5~10-μm diameter, and the integrity of plasmid DNA could be maintained during powder production. Furthermore, it was clarified that PEG-PAsp(DET)-based dry gene powder could more sufficiently maintain both the physicochemical properties and in vitro gene transfection efficiencies of polyplexes reconstituted after powder production than PAsp(DET)-based dry gene powder. From an in vitro inhalation study using an Andersen cascade impactor, it was demonstrated that the addition of l-leucine could markedly improve the inhalation performance of dry powders prepared by SFD. Following pulmonary delivery to mice, both PAsp(DET)- and PEG-PAsp(DET)-based dry gene powders could achieve higher gene transfection efficiencies in the lungs compared with a chitosan-based dry gene powder previously reported by us. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessCommunication
Screening for Methylated Poly(⌊-histidine) with Various Dimethylimidazolium/Methylimidazole/Imidazole Contents as DNA Carrier
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 224-232; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030224 - 25 Aug 2015
Cited by 2
Abstract
Methylated poly(l-histidine) (PLH-Me), our original polypeptide, has controlled the contents of dimethylimidazolium, τ/π-methylimidazole and imidazole groups for efficient gene delivery. The screening for the PLH-Me as DNA carrier has been carried out by use of the PLH with 25 mol% (τ-methyl, 16 mol%; [...] Read more.
Methylated poly(l-histidine) (PLH-Me), our original polypeptide, has controlled the contents of dimethylimidazolium, τ/π-methylimidazole and imidazole groups for efficient gene delivery. The screening for the PLH-Me as DNA carrier has been carried out by use of the PLH with 25 mol% (τ-methyl, 16 mol%; π-methyl, 17 mol%; deprotonated imidazole, 41 mol%), 68 mol% (τ-methyl, 16 mol%; π-methyl, 8 mol%; deprotonated imidazole, 8 mol%) and 87 mol% (τ-methyl, 7 mol%; π-methyl, 4 mol%; deprotonated imidazole, 2 mol%) dimethylimidazolium groups, that is, PLH-Me(25), PLH-Me(68) and PLH-Me(87), respectively. The screening of the chemical structure of PLH-Me has been carried out for DNA carrier properties, which are the stability of its DNA polyion complexes and gene expression. The DNA complexes with the 25 mol% and 68 mol% dimethylated PLH-Me possessed almost same ability to retain DNA, as compared with the 87 mol% dimethylated PLH-Me, which was examined by competitive exchange with dextran sulfate. From the gene transfection experiment against HepG2 cells, human hepatoma cell line, the PLH-Me(25)/DNA complex was revealed to mediate highest gene expression. These results suggest that the dimethyl-imidazolium/methylimidazole/imidazole balance of the PLH-Me is important for DNA carrier design. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Contribution of Epigenetic Modifications to the Decline in Transgene Expression from Plasmid DNA in Mouse Liver
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 199-212; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030199 - 07 Aug 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
Short-term expression of transgenes is one of the problems frequently associated with non-viral in vivo gene transfer. To obtain experimental evidence for the design of sustainable transgene expression systems, the contribution of epigenetic modifications to the decline in transgene expression needs to be [...] Read more.
Short-term expression of transgenes is one of the problems frequently associated with non-viral in vivo gene transfer. To obtain experimental evidence for the design of sustainable transgene expression systems, the contribution of epigenetic modifications to the decline in transgene expression needs to be investigated. Bisulfite sequencing and reactivation by hydrodynamic injection of isotonic solution were employed to investigate methylation statues of CpG in transiently expressing plasmid, pCMV-Luc, in mouse liver after hydrodynamic delivery. The cytosines of CpGs in the promoter region of pCMV-Luc were methylated in mouse liver, but the methylation was much later than the decline in the expression. The expression from pre-methylated pCMV-Luc was insensitive to reactivation. Neither an inhibitor of DNA methylation nor an inhibitor of histone deacetylation had significant effects on transgene expression after hydrodynamic injection of pCMV-Luc. Partial hepatectomy, which reduces the transgene expression from the non-integrated vector into the genome, significantly reduced the transgene expression of human interferon γ from a long-term expressing plasmid pCpG-Huγ, suggesting that the CpG-reduced plasmid was not significantly integrated into the genomic DNA. These results indicate that the CpG-reduced plasmids achieve prolonged transgene expression without integration into the host genome, although the methylation status of CpG sequences in plasmids will not be associated with the prolonged expression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessCommunication
Novel Antitumor Strategy Utilizing a Plasmid Expressing a Mycobacterium tuberculosis Antigen as a “Danger Signal” to Block Immune Escape of Tumor Cells
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 165-174; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030165 - 24 Jul 2015
Cited by 4
Abstract
Immune escape of tumor cells is one of the main obstacles hindering the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy. We developed a novel strategy to block immune escape by transfecting tumor cells in vivo with genes of pathogenic antigens from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). This induces [...] Read more.
Immune escape of tumor cells is one of the main obstacles hindering the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy. We developed a novel strategy to block immune escape by transfecting tumor cells in vivo with genes of pathogenic antigens from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). This induces presentation of the TB antigen on tumor cell surfaces, which can be recognized by antigen presenting cells (APCs) as a “danger signal” to stimulate antitumor immune response. This strategy is also expected to amplify the immune response against tumor-associated antigens, and block immune escape of the tumor. DNA/PEI/chondroitin sulfate ternary complex is a highly effective non-viral gene vector system for in vivo transfection. A therapeutic complex was prepared using a plasmid encoding the TB antigen, early secretory antigenic target-6 (ESAT-6). This was injected intratumorally into syngeneic tumor-bearing mice, and induced significant tumor growth suppression comparable to or higher than similar complexes expressing cytokines such as interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interleukin-12 (IL-12). Co-transfection of the cytokine-genes and the ESAT-6-gene enhanced the antitumor efficacy of either treatment alone. In addition, complete tumor regression was achieved with the combination of ESAT-6 and IL-2 genes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Highly Effective Non-Viral Antitumor Gene Therapy System Comprised of Biocompatible Small Plasmid Complex Particles Consisting of pDNA, Anionic Polysaccharide, and Fully Deprotected Linear Polyethylenimine
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 152-164; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030152 - 23 Jul 2015
Cited by 5
Abstract
We have reported that ternary complexes of plasmid DNA with conventional linear polyethylenimine (l-PEI) and certain polyanions were very stably dispersed, and, with no cryoprotectant, they could be freeze-dried and re-hydrated without the loss of transfection ability. These properties enabled the preparation of [...] Read more.
We have reported that ternary complexes of plasmid DNA with conventional linear polyethylenimine (l-PEI) and certain polyanions were very stably dispersed, and, with no cryoprotectant, they could be freeze-dried and re-hydrated without the loss of transfection ability. These properties enabled the preparation of a concentrated suspension of very small pDNA complex, by preparing the complexes at highly diluted conditions, followed by condensation via lyophilization-and-rehydration procedure. Recently, a high potency linear polyethylenimine having no residual protective groups, i.e., Polyethylenimine “Max” (PEI “Max”), is available, which has been reported to induce much higher gene expression than conventional l-PEI. We tried to prepare the small DNA/PEI “Max”/polyanion complexes by a similar freeze-drying method. Small complex particles could be obtained without apparent aggregation, but transfection activity of the rehydrated complexes was severely reduced. Complex-preparation conditions were investigated in details to achieve the freeze-dried DNA/PEI “Max”/polyanion small ternary complexes with high transfection efficiency. DNA/PEI “Max”/polyanion complexes containing cytokine-coding plasmids were then prepared, and their anti-tumor therapeutic efficacy was examined in tumor-bearing mice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Screening of mRNA Chemical Modification to Maximize Protein Expression with Reduced Immunogenicity
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 137-151; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030137 - 23 Jul 2015
Cited by 33
Abstract
Chemical modification of nucleosides in mRNA is an important technology to regulate the immunogenicity of mRNA. In this study, various previously reported mRNA formulations were evaluated by analyzing in vitro protein expression and immunogenicity in multiple cell lines. For the macrophage-derived cell line, [...] Read more.
Chemical modification of nucleosides in mRNA is an important technology to regulate the immunogenicity of mRNA. In this study, various previously reported mRNA formulations were evaluated by analyzing in vitro protein expression and immunogenicity in multiple cell lines. For the macrophage-derived cell line, RAW 264.7, modified mRNA tended to have reduced immunogenicity and increased protein expression compared to the unmodified mRNA. In contrast, in some cell types, such as hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HuH-7) and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), protein expression was decreased by mRNA modification. Further analyses revealed that mRNA modifications decreased translation efficiency but increased nuclease stability. Thus, mRNA modification is likely to exert both positive and negative effects on the efficiency of protein expression in transfected cells and optimal mRNA formulation should be determined based on target cell types and transfection purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Anti-Apoptotic Gene Delivery with cyclo-(d-Trp-Tyr) Peptide Nanotube via Eye Drop Following Corneal Epithelial Debridement
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 122-136; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030122 - 17 Jul 2015
Cited by 3
Abstract
Corneal keratocyte apoptosis triggered by cornel debridement is one mechanism of corneal disorders. In this study, the feasibility of cyclo-(d-Trp-Tyr) peptide nanotubes (PNTs) as carriers of caspase 3 silence shRNA delivery was assessed. A model of epithelial injury by epithelial debridement was [...] Read more.
Corneal keratocyte apoptosis triggered by cornel debridement is one mechanism of corneal disorders. In this study, the feasibility of cyclo-(d-Trp-Tyr) peptide nanotubes (PNTs) as carriers of caspase 3 silence shRNA delivery was assessed. A model of epithelial injury by epithelial debridement was applied to investigate the feasibility of PNTs as gene delivery carriers on corneal injury. First, the PNTs were found within 2 μm in length and 300 nm in width by an atomic force microscope and confocal laser microscope system. Plasmid DNAs were observed to be associated with PNTs by atomic force microscope and confocal laser scanning microscope. The plasmids were associated with tyrosine of PNTs with a binding constant of 2.7 × 108 M−1. The stability of plasmid DNA with PNTs against the DNase was found at 60 min. Using thioflavin T pre-stained PNTs on the corneal eye drop delivery, the distribution of PNTs was in the epithelial and stroma regions. After corneal debridement, the rhodamine-labeled plasmid DNA and thioflavin T pre-stained PNTs were also delivered and could be observed in the stroma of cornea. PNTs complexed with anti-apoptotic plasmid caspase 3 silencing shRNA eye drop delivery decreased 41% of caspase 3 activity after the first dose by caspase 3 activity and Western blot analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Open AccessCommunication
Effect of the Compaction and the Size of DNA on the Nuclear Transfer Efficiency after Microinjection in Synchronized Cells
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(2), 64-73; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7020064 - 09 Jun 2015
Cited by 10
Abstract
The nuclear transfer process is one of the critical rate-limiting processes in transgene expression. In the present study, we report on the effect of compaction and the size of the DNA molecule on nuclear transfer efficiency by microinjection. A DNA/protamine complex- or variously-sized [...] Read more.
The nuclear transfer process is one of the critical rate-limiting processes in transgene expression. In the present study, we report on the effect of compaction and the size of the DNA molecule on nuclear transfer efficiency by microinjection. A DNA/protamine complex- or variously-sized naked DNA molecules were injected into the cytoplasm or nucleus of synchronized HeLa cells. To evaluate the nuclear transfer process, a nuclear transfer score (NT score), calculated based on transgene expression after cytoplasmic microinjection divided by that after nuclear microinjection, was employed. The compaction of DNA with protamine decreased the NT score in comparison with the injection of naked DNA when the N/P ratio was increased to >2.0. Moreover, when naked DNA was microinjected, gene expression increased in parallel with the size of the DNA in the following order: minicircle DNA (MC07.CMV-EGFP; 2257 bp) > middle-sized plasmid DNA (pBS-EGFP; 3992 bp) > conventional plasmid DNA (pcDNA3.1-EGFP; 6172 bp), while the level of gene expression was quite comparable among them when the DNAs were injected into the nucleus. The above findings suggest that the intrinsic size of the DNA molecule is a major determinant for nuclear entry and that minicircle DNA has a great advantage in nuclear transfer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Image-Guided Hydrodynamic Gene Delivery: Current Status and Future Directions
Pharmaceutics 2015, 7(3), 213-223; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics7030213 - 21 Aug 2015
Cited by 12
Abstract
Hydrodynamics-based delivery has been used as an experimental tool to express transgene in small animals. This in vivo gene transfer method is useful for functional analysis of genetic elements, therapeutic effect of oligonucleotides, and cancer cells to establish the metastatic cancer animal model [...] Read more.
Hydrodynamics-based delivery has been used as an experimental tool to express transgene in small animals. This in vivo gene transfer method is useful for functional analysis of genetic elements, therapeutic effect of oligonucleotides, and cancer cells to establish the metastatic cancer animal model for experimental research. Recent progress in the development of image-guided procedure for hydrodynamics-based gene delivery in large animals directly supports the clinical applicability of this technique. This review summarizes the current status and recent progress in the development of hydrodynamics-based gene delivery and discusses the future directions for its clinical application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigm of Gene Therapy)
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