The application of gene therapy to acute inflammation has not received as much research attention as has the treatment of genetically-based diseases, cancer, and viral infections. However, gene therapy as a drug delivery system offers several theoretical and practical advantages over current protein delivery systems. These include the ability to target therapies to individual tissues or cell types, to locally produce proteins that can act intracellularly or in an autocrine, juxtacrine, or paracrine fashion, and to sustain new protein synthesis for periods up to several weeks after a single administration. Although retrovirus, herpes simplex, and adeno-associated virus have been proposed for gene therapy in cancer and in genetic diseases, nonviral and adenovirus approaches appear most applicable as drug delivery systems due to their rapid onset and short duration of transgene expression. The relative modest transduction efficiencies obtained at present with nonviral approaches, and the inherent inflammatory properties of first-generation adenovirus constructs, however, have limited their usefulness to date. The present review discusses the theoretical and practical benefits of specific gene therapy approaches for the treatment of acute inflammatory diseases, as well as our experiences with liposome:plasmid DNA and adenovirus-based approaches. Although a number of technical and theoretical hurdles remain before it can be evaluated in humans with acute inflammation, gene therapy offers a novel approach for the treatment of acute inflammation, and will likely enter the armamentarium of critical care physicians in the near future.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine