Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Faculté de médecine, Inserm U638, Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, avenue de Valombrose, 06107 Nice Cedex 2, Department of Biochemistry, Apartado 3126 and Cent, Center for neuroscience and cell biology, University of Coimbra, 3001-401, Coimbra, Portugal
Despite the great promise of gene therapy, its application in humans has been hampered by the inability to efficiently and safely deliver the gene of interest to the target tissue. The severe toxic side effects observed in some clinical trials using viral vectors have regained interest in non-viral methods. These non-viral approaches are associated with low toxicity and immunogenicity as well as an easy and inexpensive manufacturing. The two major problems encountered with these vectors are the low gene transfer efficiency and the transient transgene expression. In this regard, cancer appears as a disease of choice for the use of non-viral vectors as (i) long term transgene expression is not always required, (ii) the low gene transfer efficiency can be relayed by immune system activation and/or local bystander effects. This review focuses on non-viral gene therapy applications for treatment of cancer, and particularly on naked DNA or DNA in association with liposomes (lipoplexes).