Common Cold Virus Delivers the Goods. (Gene Therapy)

Article excerpt

Viruses associated with the common cold are perfect carriers for DNA, but improvements must be made in the delivery process if the virus is to be used in safe and successful gene therapy, according to Maria Croyle, assistant professor of pharmaceutics, University of Texas at Austin. Genetic engineering already permits researchers to use DNA as a sort of drug or therapy vehicle to treat disease. "But direct injection of naked DNA just doesn't work," she notes.

For some time, scientists have identified missing or altered sequences in chromosomes as contributing factors of many human illnesses, including cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infectious diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS. Once scientists identify the specific gene involved in a particular disorder or illness, gene therapy emerges as a treatment option. Croyle picked the cold virus because its DNA structure is well-known, can be produced in quantity, and is manipulated easily. …