What are lentiviruses and why are they used as vectors?

Lentiviruses are a subclass of retroviruses which are able to transduce both dividing and non-dividing cells. They have been documented to be capable of transducing stem cells, neurons, and immune cells in vivo, with high efficiency and transgene expression stability, making them a highly compelling option for gene therapy approaches.1 Lentiviruses pose the same risk of mutagenesis and oncogenesis as retroviruses.1 In addition, while both retroviruses and lentiviruses can be pathogenic if they become replication-capable, lentiviruses present a greater safety risk because of their ability to induce chronic and fatal diseases, including AIDS.1 For further expansion on related topics please visit our viral vector section in the resource center here.

1. J.B. Connolly, “Lentiviruses in gene therapy clinical research,” Gene Ther 9(24): 1730-1734, 2002.