The large number of monogenic metabolic disorders originating in the liver poses a unique opportunity for development of gene therapy modalities to pursue curative approaches. Various disorders have been successfully treated via liver-directed gene therapy, though most of the advances have been in animal models, with only limited success in clinical trials. Pre-clinical data in animals using non-viral approaches, including the Sleeping Beauty transposon system, are discussed. The various advances with viral vectors for liver-directed gene therapy are also a focus of this review, including retroviral, adenoviral, recombinant adeno-associated viral, and SV40 vectors. Genome editing techniques, including zinc finger nucleases, transcription activator-like effector nucleases and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), are also described. Further, the various controversies in the field with regards to somatic vs. germline editing using CRISPR in humans are explored, while also highlighting the myriad of preclinical advances. Lastly, newer technologies are reviewed, including base editing and prime editing, which use CRISPR with exciting adjunctive properties to avoid double-stranded breaks and thus the recruitment of endogenous repair mechanisms. While encouraging results have been achieved recently, there are still significant challenges to overcome prior to the broad use of vector-based and genome editing techniques in the clinical arena. As these technologies mature, the promise of a cure for many disabling inherited metabolic disorders is within reach, and urgently needed.
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