Gene Therapy Clinical Trials for Muscular Dystrophies

  • Dominic J. Wells


The major challenge for therapy of Duchenne and related muscular dystrophies is the need to treat multiple muscles for clinical benefit. After many years of laboratory studies developing systems for gene transfer into muscle, the last 5 years have seen major steps forward with the generation of genetic treatments that can be administered systemically. Consequently, a number of different approaches have been taken through to clinical trials, including adeno-associated viral vector mediated gene delivery, plasmid mediated gene delivery, and the use of antisense oligonucleotides to modify splicing of the primary transcript to restore the reading frame. Cell transfer can also be used as a means of gene delivery. Associated with clinical trials has been the consideration of appropriate pre-clinical safety testing and outcome measures for assessing efficacy for regulatory approval. Although many of the trials look promising and offer hope for the future, it is important to understand that therapeutic approval can take considerable time and requires significant funding and input from biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies.


Muscular Dystrophy Dystrophin Expression Safety Pharmacology Extensor Digitorum Brevis Mediate Gene Delivery 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author is a member of the MDEX Consortium and is participating in the analysis of samples from the clinical trials of exon-skipping using PMOs. The author has no other conflicts of interest.

Many of the thoughts and comments contained in this chapter have arisen out of conversations at various meetings with a range of colleagues. The author is grateful to the members of the MDEX consortium (funded by the UK Department of Health), Treat-NMD (funded by the EU), and members of the Wells laboratory. Pre-clinical studies in the author’s laboratory have been funded by the UK Department of Health, Big Lottery Fund, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, and the Gavriel Meier Trust.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Division of Neuroscience and Mental HealthHammersmith Hospital Campus, Imperial College LondonLondonUK

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