Systemic AAV Micro-dystrophin Gene Therapy for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Duan D. Systemic AAV Micro-dystrophin Gene Therapy for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy 2018;26:2337-2356.

Duan_2018_Mol Ther. Oct 3;26(10);2337-2356

A thorough review addressing the current state of the art of gene therapy using microdystrophins for DMD. Results obtained in pre-clinical studies, first clinical trials, hurdles and evolution in the design of microdystrophins are discussed.



Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal muscle disease caused by dystrophin gene mutation. Conceptually, replacing the mutated gene with a normal one would cure the disease. However, this task has encountered significant challenges due to the enormous size of the gene and the distribution of muscle throughout the body. The former creates a hurdle for viral vector packaging and the latter begs for whole-body therapy. To address these obstacles, investigators have invented the highly abbreviated micro-dystrophin gene and developed body-wide systemic gene transfer with adeno-associated virus (AAV). Numerous microgene configurations and various AAV serotypes have been explored in animal models in many laboratories. Preclinical data suggests that intravascular AAV micro-dystrophin delivery can significantly ameliorate muscle pathology, enhance muscle force, and attenuate dystrophic cardiomyopathy in animals. Against this backdrop, several clinical trials have been initiated to test the safety and tolerability of this promising therapy in DMD patients. While these trials are not powered to reach a conclusion on clinical efficacy, findings will inform the field on the prospects of body-wide DMD therapy with a synthetic micro-dystrophin AAV vector. This review discusses the history, current status, and future directions of systemic AAV micro-dystrophin therapy.

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