A major research thrust is dedicated to understanding the biology and exploring the therapeutic potential of gene delivery, which serves as an effective means to control stem cells. Gene therapy can be defined as the introduction of genetic material to the cells of an individual for therapeutic benefit. A variety of approaches are under development to use gene therapy for treating cancer, AIDS, and a number of inherited genetic disorders. For example, gene therapy could be used to replace the genes hemophilia patients are missing, to bolster the immune system to recognize and combat tumors, or to inhibit the replication of HIV virus. However, significant progress must still be made before these developing strategies become therapeutic realities. One of the most formidable obstacles to gene therapy is how to efficiently deliver genes to a sufficient number of cells to yield a therapeutic effect. A number of gene delivery vehicles, or vectors, are in development, and most exploit or emulate the abilities many viruses have evolved to deliver their genes to cells as part of their life cycles. However, while viruses have developed numerous strategies to deliver genes over millions of years of evolution, the efficiency and safety of vehicles based upon recombinant viruses must still be further improved. We have developed numerous high-throughput directed evolution approaches to engineer the properties of viral vehicles at the molecular level to enhance their abilities to deliver genes. These successful efforts are enhancing the abilities of several vectors to make them more effective at delivering gene “medicines.”

Researchers: David, Maroof, Sabrina, Leah, Tim, Jonathan, Benjamin, Thom, Shakked and John