Transfer and expression of the human multiple drug resistance gene as potential human gene therapy

Arthur Bank, Maureen Ward, Christine Richardson, Patricia Pioli, Charles Hesdorffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human multiple drug resistance (MDR) gene has been used as a model for human gene transfer which could lead to human gene therapy. MDR is a transmembrane protein which pumps a number of toxic substances out of cells including several drugs used in cancer chemotherapy. Normal bone marrow cells express low levels of MDR and are particularly sensitive to the toxic effects of these drugs. There are two general applications of MDR gene therapy: (1) to provide drug-resistance to the marrow of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, and (2) as a selectable marker which when co-transferred with a non-selectable gene such as the human beta globin gene can be used to enrich the marrow for cells containing both genes. We demonstrate efficient transfer and expression of the human MDR gene in a retroviral vector into live mice and human marrow cells including CD34+ cells isolated from marrow and containing the bulk of human hematopoietic progenitors. MDR gene transduction corrects the sensitivity of CD34+ cells to taxol, an MDR drug substrate, and enriches the marrow for MDR-transduced cells. The MDR gene-containing retroviral supernatant used has been shown to be safe and free of replication-competent retrovirus. Because of the safety of the MDR retroviral supernatant, and efficient gene transfer into mouse and human marrow cells, a phase 1 clinical protocol for MDR gene transfer into cancer patients has been approved to evaluate MDR gene transfer and expression in human marrow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • gene therapy
  • multiple drug resistance gene
  • polymerase chain reaction
  • retroviral vector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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