Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gene Therapy for Depression

This recent article looks at a novel way of treating depression through gene therapy. The study was done on mice and the investigators were able to both cause and treat depression like symptoms (motivation).

“Because retroviral vectors are thought to insert themselves at random positions in the host genome, insertional mutagenesis as a potential risk of retroviral gene therapy has been debated for some years…The manipulations needed to create genetic therapy add enormous complexity to considerations of safety and preclinical toxicity testing.”

According to this recent opinion article, there have been recent attempts to find safer viral vectors, but that has yet to be discovered.

Risks associated with gene therapy include negative immune response, viral spread, viral reversion to causing disease instead of treating it, and tumor induction.

Here is a very thorough article discussing the risks of and potentially safer ways of using gene therapy.
“The ability of retroviruses to integrate into the host cell chromosome also raises the possibility of insertional mutagenesis and oncogene activation… A considered review of retroviral induced pathogenesis suggests these events were qualitatively, if not quantitatively, predictable. In addition, it is clear that the probability of such events can be greatly reduced by relatively simple vector modifications, such as the use of self-inactivating vectors and vectors derived from non-oncogenic retroviruses. However, these approaches remain to be fully developed and validated.”

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