Considerations for Preclinical Safety Assessment of Adeno-Associated Virus Gene Therapy Products

Basel T. Assaf, Laurence O. Whiteley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Progress in understanding the molecular bases of human health and disease in recent decades has flourished making it possible for the field of gene therapy (GT) to offer new possibilities for treating, and even curing, a plethora of medical conditions such as monogenic disorders and metabolic diseases. GT is a therapeutic intervention to genetically alter or modify living cells by means of gene delivery achieved using either viral vectors or nonviral vectors, with adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors constituting market-share majority. Although GT is conceptually attractive, adverse and even fatal iatrogenic complications have marred the initial enthusiasm of clinical successes. The properties of investigational AAV-based GT may pose safety concerns unique from those of small molecule drugs and other macromolecular biologics, such as ectopic or unregulated expression of the transgene, long-term persistence, and off-target distribution. Herein, we discuss considerations in the design of a comprehensive preclinical safety program for AAV-based GT prior to administration in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1020-1027
Number of pages8
JournalToxicologic Pathology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • AAV
  • adeno-associated virus
  • gene therapy
  • preclinical
  • study design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Toxicology
  • Cell Biology


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