Molecular therapy for renal diseases.
The introduction of molecular therapy through the delivery of nucleic acids either as oligonucleotides or genetic constructs holds enormous promise for the treatment of renal disease. Significant barriers remain, however, before successful organ-specific molecular therapy can be applied to the kidney. These include the development of methods to target the kidney selectively, the definition of vectors that transduce renal tissue, the identification of appropriate molecular targets, the development of constructs that are regulated and expressed for long periods of time, the demonstration of efficacy in vivo, and the demonstration of safety in humans. As the genetic and pathophysiologic basis of renal disease is clarified, obvious targets for therapy will be defined, for example, polycystin in polycystic kidney disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 in HIV-associated nephropathy, alpha-galactosidase A in Fabry's disease, insulin in diabetic nephropathy, and the "minor" collagen IV chains in Alport's syndrome. In addition, several potential mediators of progressive renal disease may be amenable to molecular therapeutic strategies, such as interleukin-6, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and transforming growth factor-beta(TGF-beta). To test the in vivo efficacy of molecular therapy, appropriate animal models for these disease states must be developed, an area that has received too little attention. For the successful delivery of genetic constructs to the kidney, both viral and nonviral vector systems will be required. The kidney has a major advantage over other solid organs since it is accessible by many routes, including intrarenal artery infusion, retrograde delivery through the uroexcretory pathways, and ex vivo during transplantation. To further restrict expression to the kidney, tropic vectors and tissue-specific promoters also must be developed. For the purpose of inhibition of endogenous or exogenous genes, current therapeutic modalities include the delivery of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides or ribozymes. For these approaches to succeed, we must gain a much better understanding of the nature of their transport into the kidney, requirements for specificity, and in vivo mechanisms of action. The danger of a rush to clinical application is that superficial approaches to these issues will likely fail and enthusiasm will be lost for an area that should be one of the most exciting developments in therapeutics in the next decade.
Lipkowitz, MS; Klotman, ME; Bruggeman, LA; Nicklin, P; Hanss, B; Rappaport, J; Klotman, PE
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