UMMS Affiliation

Horae Gene Therapy Center; Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems; VIDE Program; Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research

Publication Date


Document Type



Genetics and Genomics | Therapeutics


Throughout its 40-year history, the field of gene therapy has been marked by many transitions. It has seen great strides in combating human disease, has given hope to patients and families with limited treatment options, but has also been subject to many setbacks. Treatment of patients with this class of investigational drugs has resulted in severe adverse effects and, even in rare cases, death. At the heart of this dichotomous field are the viral-based vectors, the delivery vehicles that have allowed researchers and clinicians to develop powerful drug platforms, and have radically changed the face of medicine. Within the past 5 years, the gene therapy field has seen a wave of drugs based on viral vectors that have gained regulatory approval that come in a variety of designs and purposes. These modalities range from vector-based cancer therapies, to treating monogenic diseases with life-altering outcomes. At present, the three key vector strategies are based on adenoviruses, adeno-associated viruses, and lentiviruses. They have led the way in preclinical and clinical successes in the past two decades. However, despite these successes, many challenges still limit these approaches from attaining their full potential. To review the viral vector-based gene therapy landscape, we focus on these three highly regarded vector platforms and describe mechanisms of action and their roles in treating human disease.


gene therapy, viral vectors

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Bulcha JT, Wang Y, Ma H, Tai PWL, Gao G. Viral vector platforms within the gene therapy landscape. Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2021 Feb 8;6(1):53. doi: 10.1038/s41392-021-00487-6. PMID: 33558455; PMCID: PMC7868676. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Signal transduction and targeted therapy

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.