The PCR assay in the preclinical safety evaluation of nucleic acid medicines

Haworth, R.; Pilling, A.M.
May 2000
Human & Experimental Toxicology;May2000, Vol. 19 Issue 5, p267
Academic Journal
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a highly efficient gene amplification procedure which is increasingly being applied to the safety assessment of nucleic acid (NA) medicines such as gene therapies and DNA vaccines. Although clinical experience is limited, a number of potential safety issues exist with these new compounds including toxicity associated with the expression of encoded gene products, autoimmunity due to the induction of anti-DNA antibodies and insertional mutagenesis. PCR enables these questions to be addressed and provides data on mRNA expression, biodistribution and integration. In this review the use of PCR methodologies in the preclinical safety evaluation of NA medicines is discussed. Particular consideration is given to the issues surrounding the use of PCR in regulatory toxicology, including sensitivity requirements, cross-contamination problems, tissue sampling procedures and good laboratory practice (GLP) compliance. In addition, the use of a PCR-based assay to demonstrate the integration of DNA vector into host DNA is described. As the use of PCR in the development of NA medicines will undoubtedly increase over the next few years, it is important that pathologists and toxicologists familiarise themselves with the principles and applications of this technique. Human & Experimental Toxicology (2000) 19, 267–276.


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