The Development of Gene Therapy: From Monogenic Recessive Disorders to Complex Diseases Such as Cancer

  • Jean-Pierre Gillet
  • Benjamin Macadangdang
  • Robert L. Fathke
  • Michael M. Gottesman
  • Chava Kimchi-Sarfaty
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology™ book series (MIMB, volume 542)


During the last 4 decades, gene therapy has moved from preclinical to clinical studies for many diseases ranging from monogenic recessive disorders such as hemophilia to more complex diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). To date, more than 1,340 gene therapy clinical trials have been completed, are ongoing, or have been approved in 28 countries, using more than 100 genes. Most of those clinical trials (66.5%) were aimed at the treatment of cancer. Early hype, failures, and tragic events have now largely been replaced by the necessary stepwise progress needed to realize clinical benefits. We now understand better the strengths and weaknesses of various gene transfer vectors; this facilitates the choice of appropriate vectors for individual diseases. Continuous advances in our understanding of tumor biology have allowed the development of elegant, more efficient, and less toxic treatment strategies. In this introductory chapter, we review the history of gene therapy since the early 1960s and present in detail two major recurring themes in gene therapy: (1) the development of vector and delivery systems and (2) the design of strategies to fight or cure particular diseases. The field of cancer gene therapy experienced an “awkward adolescence.” Although this field has certainly not yet reached maturity, it still holds the potential of alleviating the suffering of many individuals with cancer.

Key Words

Antiangiogenic therapy chemoinducible gene therapy gene delivery systems gene silencing history of gene therapy immunotherapy oncolytic viruses suicide gene therapy tumor suppressors 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Pierre Gillet
    • 1
  • Benjamin Macadangdang
    • 1
  • Robert L. Fathke
    • 2
  • Michael M. Gottesman
    • 1
  • Chava Kimchi-Sarfaty
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cell Biology, National Cancer InstituteNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaMD
  2. 2.Center for Biologics Evaluation and ResearchFood and Drug AdministrationBethesdaMD

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