Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has a number of advantages as a vector for delivering specific genes to the nervous system. These include its large size, wide host range, and its ability to establish long-lived asymptomatic infections in neuronal cells in which a specific region of the viral genome continues to be expressed. Unfortunately, the large size of this virus and difficulty in manipulating it has led to its use as a vector lagging behind that of other, smaller viruses such as the retroviruses. In addition, the virus's ability to replicate lytically in the brain, under some circumstances, causing encephalitis, has led to fears about its potential safety for ultimate use in humans. This review will discuss a number of new approaches that are aimed at rendering simpler the insertion of foreign genes into the virus and making it as safe as possible. Ultimately, these advances offer real hope for the use of HSV vectors in gene therapy procedures.
Index EntriesHerpes simplex virus viral vectors neuronal cells gene therapy
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