Caffeine boosts virus production for gene therapy applications

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Washington, Jan 26 (ANI): If caffeine is given to cells engineered to produce viruses used for gene therapy, then cells can generate three to eight times more virus, suggests a study.

This simple and inexpensive strategy for increasing lentivirus production was developed by Brian Ellis, Patrick Ryan Potts, and Matthew Porteus, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

The researchers emphasize that the timing of caffeine addition to standard lentiviral production protocols is important for achieving higher virus titers.

Caffeine concentration is also critical, as too much caffeine was toxic to the cells and did not increase virus production.

Lentivirus vectors are commonly used for transferring genes into cells for both research applications in the laboratory and, increasingly, for gene therapy procedures in clinical testing.

The addition of caffeine "should significantly decrease the cost of lentiviral production for research and clinical uses," concluded the authors.

"It is ironic that the ingredient in beverages like colas and coffees that helps keep us awake and alert is also useful in jazzing up cells to produce more gene therapy vectors. An increase in vector production of 5-fold may prove critical in establishing the commercial viability of lentiviral based products," said James M. Wilson o the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

The findings were reported in the journal Human Gene Therapy. (ANI)

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