Biomaterial approaches to gene therapies for neurodegenerative disorders of the CNS
Neurodegeneration gives rise to a wide range of disorders which represent a growing health burden to both western societies and developing countries. Whilst for many disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease the cause is unknown, gene therapy is becoming the forefront of novel potential therapies described in the literature and has entered clinical trials. Furthermore, although in somewhat an earlier stage, biomaterials offer means of enhancing gene therapy strategies either through new delivery methods or provision of support for genetically manipulated cells. This review outlines recent uses of biomaterials in the CNS and captures recent advances in non-viral gene delivery to the brain. Three dimensional scaffolding systems for ex vivo gene delivery to the brain are also discussed highlighting the progress of hydrogel mediated cell delivery. This review also addresses the difficulties and safety considerations of these approaches; illustrating the ability of biomaterial strategies to significantly improve outcomes of gene therapies for neurodegenerative disorders.