Nonviral vectors for cancer gene therapy: Prospects for integrating vectors and combination therapies

John R. Ohlfest, Andrew B. Freese, David A. Largaespada

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Gene therapy has the potential to improve the clinical outcome of many cancers by transferring therapeutic genes into tumor cells or normal host tissue. Gene transfer into tumor cells or tumor-associated stroma is being employed to induce tumor cell death, stimulate anti-tumor immune response, inhibit angiogenesis, and control tumor cell growth. Viral vectors have been used to achieve this proof of principle in animal models and, in select cases, in human clinical trials. Nevertheless, there has been considerable interest in developing nonviral vectors for cancer gene therapy. Nonviral vectors are simpler, more amenable to large-scale manufacture, and potentially safer for clinical use. Nonviral vectors were once limited by low gene transfer efficiency and transient or steadily declining gene expression. However, recent improvements in plasmid-based vectors and delivery methods are showing promise in circumventing these obstacles. This article reviews the current status of nonviral cancer gene therapy, with an emphasis on combination strategies, long-term gene transfer using transposons and bacteriophage integrases, and future directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-641
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent gene therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Cancer gene therapy
  • Chemical vectors
  • Nonviral
  • Sleeping beauty


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