Gene therapy for repair and regeneration of bone and cartilage

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HighlightsGene therapy uses vectors to deliver therapeutic nucleic acids to diseased tissues.Classic approaches target inflammation and tissue remodeling to promote repair.Monotherapies targeting IL-1Ra, TGF-β and others are being evaluated for OA and RA.Combinatorial and inducible strategies are emerging to address diseases complexity.miRNAs may offer a means to modulate multiple targets with a single therapeutic.Gene therapy refers to the use of viral and non-viral vectors to deliver nucleic acids to tissues of interest using direct (in vivo) or transduced cell-mediated (ex vivo) approaches. Over the past few decades, strategies have been adopted to express therapeutic transgenes at sites of injury to promote or facilitate repair of bone and cartilage. Targets of interest have typically included secreted proteins such as growth factors and anti-inflammatory mediators; however, work has also begun to focus intracellularly on signaling components, transcription factors and small, regulatory nucleic acids such as microRNAs (miRNAs). In recent years, a number of single therapeutic gene approaches (termed ‘monotherapies’) have proven effective in preclinical models of disease, and several are being evaluated in clinical trials. In particular, an ex vivo TGF-β1 gene therapy was approved in Korea in 2017 for treatment of moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis (OA). The ability to utilize viral vectors for context-specific and combinatorial gene therapy is also being investigated, and these strategies are likely to be important in more robustly addressing the complexities of tissue repair and regeneration in skeletal disease. In this review, we provide an overview of viral gene therapies being developed for treatment of bone and cartilage pathologies, with an emphasis on emerging combinatorial strategies as well as those targeting intracellular mediators such as miRNAs.

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