• Creating a Selective Advantage for Stem Cells: A Strategy for Gene Therapy

      Menezes, Kareena M.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (1999-10)
      (Statement of the Problem) Various approaches are used to treat the many known genetic diseases. The treatments are often incompletely effective, and they sometimes have undesirable side effects. Somatic cell gene therapy might provide truly effective permanent cures. Gene therapy, however, is still in the experimental stages, and much needs to be learned about stem cell biology before gene therapy becomes routine clinical practice. Moreover, inferences made from experiments in vitro do not necessarily model the in vitro setting. If treatments designed and tested in vitro can also be made workable and proven to be therapeutic in vivo, a major contribution to clinical gene therapy would be achieved. The described research, which attempts to encourage the stem cells to proliferate rather than divide down the hematopoietic cascade, could be significant in terms of increasing in number those hematopoietic cells that have been successfully modified by therapeutic vectors. The long-term goal of this research is to find a way to provide modified stem cells with a selective advantage in repopulating the marrow of a patient with a genetic disease. Ultimately it will be necessary to confer the selective advantage on somatic cells by introducing DNA into the patient’s defective bone marrow stem cells. However for purposes of preliminary laboratory analyses, a more reproducible system of testing a candidate genes’ potential for providing a selective advantage is necessary. In the present case, an Erythropoietin Receptor transgenic mouse line is used to provide stem cells, each of which already expresses the candidate selective-advantage gene.