Research Topic

Gene Therapy for the Central and Peripheral Nervous System

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Gene therapy is at the forefront of current techniques that aim to re-establish functional connectivity, after an insult to the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. Gene therapy makes the most of the existing cellular machinery and anatomical networks to facilitate molecular changes in DNA, RNA and ...

Gene therapy is at the forefront of current techniques that aim to re-establish functional connectivity, after an insult to the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. Gene therapy makes the most of the existing cellular machinery and anatomical networks to facilitate molecular changes in DNA, RNA and proteins aiming to repair these disrupted connections. For instance, gene therapy is currently being used to target genes in conditions including spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, stroke and multiple sclerosis, amongst others. The various delivery routes include viral-vectors, genetically modified cellular implants, naked DNA/RNA, liposomes, Cre-Lox recombination, optogenetics and nanoparticles. In particular, gene therapy aims to restore function by augmenting the expression of neuroprotective/axonal growth-promoting neurotrophic factors (e.g., BDNF, CNTF, NGF and GDNF, etc.). Furthermore, the downstream intracellular signalling pathways after receptor activation can also be targeted (e.g., mTor, MAPK, etc.).

On the other hand, gene therapy can also be used to downregulate and/or remove faulty mutated genes, such as those contributing to disease progression or that inhibit axonal regeneration (e.g., SOD-1, TDP-43, Nogo-A, MAG, OmGP, etc.). Depending on the methodology, these genes, for instance, can be silenced, removed or replaced to alleviate the underlying pathology. As such, gene therapy can transform a largely toxic and inhibitory milieu surrounding a neuronal/axonal insult into a growth-permissive environment that will ultimately aid neuronal survival and functional regeneration. Moreover, gene therapy has the capacity to target non-neuronal cells and can be even used for neuroanatomical tract tracing. Ultimately, the principal outcome of gene therapy is to functionally restore damaged neuronal and/or axonal connections irrespective of the system it is being introduced in to.

This research topic is devoted to work using gene therapy for the both the central and/or peripheral nervous system. We welcome original research using in vivo or in vitro models that utilises any of the abovementioned techniques. We also seek clinical research contributions. Moreover, we encourage the submission of short-communications, review articles, opinions and perspectives that summarise or comment on the recent advances in gene therapies capacity within the central or peripheral nervous system.


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