Gene therapy for muscular dystrophy: current progress and future prospects

Capucine Trollet, Takis Athanasopoulos, Linda Popplewell, Alberto Malerba, George Dickson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Muscular dystrophies refer to a group of inherited disorders characterized by progressive muscle weakness, wasting and degeneration. So far, there is no effective treatment but new gene-based therapies are currently being developed with particular noted advances in using conventional gene replacement strategies, RNA-based approaches, or cell-based gene therapy with a main focus on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). DMD is the most common and severe form of muscular dystrophy and current treatments are far from adequate. However, genetic and cell-based therapies, in particular exon skipping induced by antisense strategies, and corrective gene therapy via functionally engineered dystrophin genes hold great promise, with several clinical trials ongoing. Proof-of-concept of exon skipping has been obtained in animal models, and most recently in clinical trials; this approach represents a promising therapy for a subset of patients. In addition, gene-delivery-based strategies exist both for antisense-induced reading frame restoration, and for highly efficient delivery of functional dystrophin mini- and micro-genes to muscle fibres in vivo and muscle stem cells ex-vivo. In particular, AAV-based vectors show efficient systemic gene delivery to skeletal muscle directly in vivo, and lentivirus-based vectors show promise of combining ex vivo gene modification strategies with cell-mediated therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-866
Number of pages18
JournalExpert Opinion on Biological Therapy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


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