Nervous system modification by transplants and gene transfer.
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New possibilities to modify function and direct repair in the central nervous system (CNS) have been established by the merger of gene transfer technology with neural transplantation. Rapid advances in viral-mediated DNA-delivery procedures permit the study of novel gene expression in neurons and glial cells. Foreign genes, transferred by a virus vector, can be used to generate new cell lines, identify transplanted cells, and express growth factors or enzymes for neurotransmitter synthesis. In addition to CNS cell types, non-neural cells are also being studied with transgene technology in the nervous system. Functional effects have been obtained with grafts of genetically modified cells in animal models of several nervous system disorders, and the recent results set the stage for potential application of these techniques to human CNS gene therapy.
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