Implantation of genetically engineered fibroblasts into mice: implications for gene therapy

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Science  08 May 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4802, pp. 714-718
DOI: 10.1126/science.3472348


In a variety of human genetic diseases, replacement of the absent or defective protein provides significant therapeutic benefits. As a model for a somatic cell gene therapy system, cultured murine fibroblasts were transfected with a human growth hormone (hGH) fusion gene and cells from one of the resulting clonal lines were subsequently implanted into various locations in mice. Such implants synthesized and secreted hGH, which was detectable in the serum. The function of the implants depended on their location and size, and on the histocompatibility of the donor cells with their recipients. The expression of hGH could be modified by addition of regulatory effectors, and, with appropriate immunosuppression, the implants survived for more than 3 months. This approach to gene therapy, here termed "transkaryotic implantation," is potentially applicable to many genetic diseases in that the transfected cell line can be extensively characterized prior to implantation, several anatomical sites are suitable for implantation, and regulated expression of the gene of therapeutic interest can be obtained.