Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating disease for which there are no effective drug treatments to date. Recent advances in Gene Therapy open up the possibility of developing an effective treatment aiming at halting or delaying the degeneration of motor neurons. Viral vectors such as lentiviral vectors and adeno-associated virus can transfer genes into many different types of primary neurons from a broad range of species including man and the resulting gene expression is long-term. Numerous animal studies have now been undertaken with these vectors and correction of disease models has been obtained. These vectors have been refined to a very high level and can be produced safely for the clinic. However, we believe that there are some major issues that need to be addressed in order to see a Gene Therapy approach with viral vectors proceed to the clinic for ALS patients. This review will describe the general features of lentiviral vectors. It will then describe some key examples of gene transfer and genetic correction in animal models of motor neuron disease. The prospects for the clinical evaluation of lentiviral vectors for the treatment of human motor neuron disease will be outlined. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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