Gene therapy may safely regenerate gum tissue

April 8th, 2009 - 2:27 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 8 (ANI): University of Michigan scientists have moved a step closer to using gene therapy to regenerate tooth-supporting gum tissue.

The researchers say that they have developed a method of gene delivery that appears safe.

According to them, their work assuages one of the biggest safety concerns surrounding gene therapy research and tissue engineering.

The most notable incident highlighting the safety concerns of gene therapy research and treatment occurred several years ago when a teenager died when given the adenovirus during a gene therapy clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania.

The U-M researchers say their approach, though involves the adenovirus, differs because they use lower dose and put the genes on a localized area rather than inject them into the blood vessels, where they can then travel through the bloodstream and result in unexpected and sometimes fatal reactions.

“What the U-M study showed is (the topical method) is very well contained and doesn’t distribute throughout the body,” said William Giannobile, a professor at the U-M School of Dentistry.

“This approach alleviates the safety concern about negative reactions within the body.

“When the teenager died, it got into his bloodstream and he reacted to it. It was tragic. This is the first study of periodontal disease therapy that demonstrates the distribution of these genes is very safe, suggesting that it could be used in the clinic for clinical application.

“Our study doesn’t look at all the safety concerns, but certainly this is very important to the field. The two clinical applications to date where it shows potential are periodontal disease and diabetic wounds. Maybe the reason for this is that both diseases result from a compromised or a defective healing environment,” Giannobile added.

The researcher revealed that the next step would be to use the new gene delivery approach in human clinical trials.

The planning stages for these studies will commence in the next year.

A paper on this work is scheduled to appear in the May issue of the journal Human Gene Therapy. (ANI)

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