Hum Gene Ther. 2020 Sep;31(17-18):996-1009. doi: 10.1089/hum.2020.169. Epub 2020 Sep 8.
Efforts to identify mutations that underlie inherited genetic diseases combined with strides in the development of gene therapy vectors over the last three decades have culminated in the approval of several adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapies. Genetic diseases that manifest in the lung such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and surfactant deficiencies, however, have so far proven to be elusive targets. Early clinical trials in CF using AAV serotype 2 (AAV2) achieved safety, but not efficacy endpoints; however, importantly, these studies provided critical information on barriers that need to be surmounted to translate AAV lung gene therapy toward clinical success. Bolstered with an improved understanding of AAV biology and more clinically relevant lung models, next-generation molecular biology and bioinformatics approaches have given rise to novel AAV capsid variants that offer improvements in transduction efficiency, immunological profile, and the ability to circumvent physical barriers in the lung such as mucus. This review discusses the principal limiting barriers to clinical success in lung gene therapy and focuses on novel engineered AAV capsid variants that have been developed to overcome those challenges.