Published online Dec 20, 2011. doi: 10.5493/wjem.v1.i1.10
Revised: December 12, 2011
Accepted: December 16, 2011
Published online: December 20, 2011
More than two decades have passed since the first gene therapy clinical trial was conducted. During this time, we have gained much knowledge regarding gene therapy in general, but also learned to understand the fear that persists in society. We have experienced drawbacks and successes. More than 1700 clinical trials have been conducted where gene therapy is used as a means for therapy. In the very first trial, patients with advanced melanoma were treated with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes genetically modified ex-vivo to express tumor necrosis factor. Around the same time the first gene therapy trial was conducted, the ethical aspects of performing gene therapy on humans was intensively discussed. What are the risks involved with gene therapy? Can we control the technology? What is ethically acceptable and what are the indications gene therapy can be used for? Initially, gene therapy was thought to be implemented mainly for the treatment of monogenetic diseases, such as adenosine deaminase deficiency. However, other therapeutic areas have become of interest and currently cancer is the most studied therapeutic area for gene therapy based medicines. In this review I will be giving a short introduction into gene therapy and will direct the discussion to where we should go from here. Furthermore, I will focus on the use of the Herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase for gene therapy of malignant gliomas and highlight the efficacy of gene therapy for the treatment of malignant gliomas, but other strategies will also be mentioned.