Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors exhibit a number of properties that have made this vector system an excellent choice for both CNS gene therapy and basic neurobiological investigations. In vivo, the preponderance of AAV vector transduction occurs in neurons where it is possible to obtain long-term, stable gene expression with very little accompanying toxicity. Promoter selection, however, significantly influences the pattern and longevity of neuronal transduction distinct from the tropism inherent to AAV vectors. AAV vectors have successfully manipulated CNS function using a wide variety of approaches including expression of foreign genes, expression of endogenous genes, expression of antisense RNA and expression of RNAi. With the discovery and characterization of different AAV serotypes, as well as the creation of novel chimeric serotypes, the potential patterns of in vivo vector transduction have been expanded substantially, offering alternatives to the more studied AAV 2 serotype. Furthermore, the development of specific AAV chimeras offers the potential to further refine targeting strategies. These different AAV serotypes also provide a solution to the immune silencing that proves to be a realistic likelihood given broad exposure of the human population to the AAV 2 serotype. These advantageous CNS properties of AAV vectors have fostered a wide range of clinically relevant applications including Parkinsons disease, lysosomal storage diseases, Canavans disease, epilepsy, Huntingtons disease and ALS. In many cases the proposed therapies have progressed to phase I/II clinical trials. Each individual application, however, presents a unique set of challenges that must be solved in order to attain clinically effective gene therapies.
Keywords: AAV, viral vectors, gene therapy, neurological disorders, immune, chimeras, Canavan's disease, epilepsy, Huntington's disease, ALS
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