The ability to manufacture and administer purified recombinant proteins has dramatically enhanced the therapeutic options for countless patients. For example, patients with hemophilia now receive recombinant coagulation factors or patients with pituitary disease receive recombinant growth hormone. However, this treatment is not a permanent 'cure'. Limitations to this therapeutic approach include the systemic delivery of non-physiological boluses of protein through repetitive injections, thereby making it difficult to maintain a constant therapeutic dosage level. Gene therapy offers an alternative possibility. In combination with the crossroads location of the oral cavity, both systemic and local conditions can be treated via gene therapy, thus overcoming some of the limitations of protein replacement therapy. This review discusses the use of gene therapy and the salivary gland as a target for such treatment. It also focuses on different methods of gene delivery and the host's immune response.
Conclusion: Recent advances have expanded the efficiency and number of vectors available for gene transfer, but a greater understanding of the host's response to vector infusion is necessary prior to wide utilization of gene therapy.
Keywords: adeno-associated virus, AAV, gene therapy, salivary gland