Simple plasmid DNA injection is a safe and feasible gene transfer method, but it confers low transfection efficiency and transgene expression. This non-viral gene transfer method is enhanced by physical delivery methods, such as electroporation and the use of a gene gun. In vivo electroporation has been rapidly developed over the last two decades to deliver DNA to various tissues or organs. It is generally considered that membrane permeabilization and DNA electrophoresis play important roles in electro-gene transfer. Skeletal muscle is a well characterized target tissue for electroporation, because it is accessible and allows for long-lasting gene expression ( > one year). Skin is also a target tissue because of its accessibility and immunogenicity. Numerous studies have been performed using in vivo electroporation in animal models of disease. Clinical trials of DNA vaccines and immunotherapy for cancer treatment using in vivo electroporation have been initiated in patients with melanoma and prostate cancer. Furthermore, electroporation has been applied to DNA vaccines for infectious diseases to enhance immunogenicity, and the relevant clinical trials have been initiated. The gene gun approach is also being applied for the delivery of DNA vaccines against infectious diseases to the skin. Here, we review recent advances in the mechanism of in vivo electroporation, and summarize the findings of recent preclinical and clinical studies using this technology.
Keywords: DNA vaccine, electro-gene therapy, electroporation, heart, plasmid DNA, skeletal muscles, skin, preclinical, clinical, and immunogenicity, transgene expression
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