Great expectations: virus-mediated gene therapy in neurological disorders.
Gene therapy (GT) has tremendous potential for the treatment of neurological disorders to transform patient care. The successful application of virus-mediated GT to treat spinal muscular atrophy is a significant milestone, serving to accelerate similar progress in a spectrum of neurological conditions, with more than 50 clinical trials currently underway, across neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, chronic pain and neoplastic diseases. This review provides an overview of the key features of virus-mediated GT, paradigms of delivery and dosing, potential risks and highlights ongoing research to optimise safe and effective delivery of vectors into the nervous system. Examples of the application of GT in various neurological diseases alongside clinical development challenges will be presented. As the development and translation of GTs gain pace, success can only ultimately be realised for patients following implementation in the health system. The challenges and controversies of daunting costs, ethics, early diagnosis and health system readiness will require innovative pricing schemes, regulatory policies, education and organisation of a skilled workforce to deliver of high-quality care in clinical practice as we prepare for advanced therapeutics in neurology.