Gene therapy: Implications for craniofacial regeneration

Erica L. Scheller, Luis G. Villa-Diaz, Paul H. Krebsbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Gene therapy in the craniofacial region provides a unique tool for delivery of DNA to coordinate protein production in both time and space. The drive to bring this technology to the clinic is derived from the fact that more than 85% of the global population may at one time require repair or replacement of a craniofacial structure. This need ranges from mild tooth decay and tooth loss to temporomandibular joint disorders and large-scale reconstructive surgery. Our ability to insert foreign DNA into a host cell has been developing since the early uses of gene therapy to alter bacterial properties for waste cleanup in the 1980s followed by successful human clinical trials in the 1990s to treat severe combined immunodeficiency. In the past 20 years, the emerging field of craniofacial tissue engineering has adopted these techniques to enhance regeneration of mineralized tissues, salivary gland, and periodontium and to reduce tumor burden of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Studies are currently pursuing research on both biomaterialmediated gene delivery and more clinically efficacious, although potentially more hazardous, viral methods. Although hundreds of gene therapy clinical trials have taken place in the past 20 years, we must still work to ensure an ideal safety profile for each gene and delivery method combination. With adequate genotoxicity testing, we can expect gene therapy to augment protein delivery strategies and potentially allow for tissue-specific targeting, delivery of multiple signals, and increased spatial and temporal control with the goal of natural tissue replacement in the craniofacial complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-337
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Bone
  • Craniofacial regeneration
  • Gene therapy
  • Salivary gland
  • Tissue engineering


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