The ability to transfer genes to the skin could be useful in many genetic diseases and non-heritable diseases and also in such problems such as wound healing. A major hurdle in gene delivery to the skin has been the relatively poor transduction efficiency observed with currently available methods of delivering the gene of interest to the target tissue. Glynis Scott and her colleagues (Lu et al, p. 803) show that either of two viral vectors applied topically to mouse skin, an adenovirus or a herpes simplex amplicon virus, result in extensive delivery of plasmid DNA to most layers of the epidermis. Topical application of the adenovirus vector resulted in expression of the reporter lacZ gene for up to 7 days, with minimal associated inflammation. Intra-amniotic injection of the adenovirus vector successfully transferred genes to fetal periderm. Since transferred genes have not yet been shown to persist in skin, the technique will not cause the transfected periderm to develop into an epidermis that continues to secrete a gene product permanently, but the method could be useful in delivering secreted gene products into the amniotic fluid. The amplicon herpes virus vector produced extensive tissue necrosis, which will probably limit its use as a viral delivery system. These results indicate that adenovirus vectors may be useful, for example, in a “gene cream” for delivery of genes to the skin.
Journal of Investigative Dermatology