Cancer-specific gene therapy is still in its infancy. Although the first gene therapy trials were initiated in the late 1980s, it was only more recently that the first successful treatment of a genetic disease was reported. The current problems with low efficiency of gene transfer coupled with the immunologic difficulties with certain vectors indicate that more effort needs to be directed at the basic science of gene transfer. Ultimately, successful camcer-specific gene therapy will require combinations of the lessons learned from the ex vivo and in vivo paradigms. The next generation of gene therapy trials likely will focus on combination therapy with conventional chemotherapeutic agents, differentiating agents, or radiation theraphy. The obstacle to the development of gene-based human therapeutic (i.e., molecular medicine) are formidable, but the benefits are so great that eventually the technical issues of gene transfer methodology will be worked out, and ultimately this will become the standard of care, not only for inborn errors of metabolism, but also for cancer.
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