Gene therapy involves the transfer of a functional gene into host cells to correct the malfunction of a specific gene or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease. For gene transfer to the cardiovascular system, adenoviral vectors are the most efficient means of transfer. Recently, transfer and functional expression of recombinant nitric oxide synthase (NOS) genes to cerebral and cardiovascular beds have been demonstrated both ex vivo and in vivo. Here, Alex Chen and colleagues review current progress in the field of vascular NOS gene transfer and the potential use of NOS gene therapy for a number of cardiovascular diseases. Although the feasibility of the NOS gene transfer approach has been demonstrated in animal models, currently available vectors have a number of technical and safety limitations that have to be solved before human NOS gene therapy for cardiovascular disease can be attempted.
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