Skeletal muscle is a target tissue of choice for the gene therapy of both muscle and non-muscle disorders. Investigations of gene transfer into muscle have progressed considerably from the expression of plasmid reporter genes to the production of therapeutic proteins such as trophic factors, hormones, antigens, ion channels or cytoskeletal proteins. Viral vectors are intrinsically the most efficient vehicles to deliver genes into skeletal muscles. But, because viruses are associated with a variety of problems (such as immune and inflammatory responses, toxicity, limited large scale production yields, limitations in the size of the carried therapeutic genes), nonviral vectors remain a viable alternative. In addition, as nonviral vectors allow to transfer genetic structures of various sizes (including large plasmid DNA carrying fulllength coding sequences of the gene of interest), they can be used in various gene therapy approaches. However, given the lack of efficiency of nonviral vectors in experimental studies and in the clinical settings, the overall outcome clearly indicates that improved synthetic vectors and/or delivery techniques are required for successful clinical gene therapy. Today, most of the potential muscle-targeted clinical applications seem geared toward peripheral ischemia (mainly through local injections) and cancer and infectious vaccines, and one locoregional administration of naked DNA in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This review updates the developments in clinical applications of the various plasmid-based non-viral methods under investigation for the delivery of genes to muscles.
Keywords: non-viral, gene therapy, skeletal muscle, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neuromuscular diseases, human, clinical trials
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