Aerosolized medications for gene and peptide therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Inhalation therapy has matured to include drugs that: (1) deliver nucleic acids that either lead to the restoration of a gene construct or protein coding sequence in a population of cells or suppress or disrupt production of an abnormal gene product (gene therapy); (2) deliver peptides that target lung diseases such as asthma, sarcoidosis, pulmonary hypertension, and cystic fibrosis; and (3) deliver peptides to treat diseases outside the lung whose target is the systemic circulation (systemic drug delivery). These newer applications for aerosol therapy are the focus of this paper, and I discuss the status of each and the challenges that remain to their successful development. Drugs that are highlighted include: small interfering ribonucleic acid to treat lung cancer and Mycobacterium tuberculosis; vectors carrying the normal alpha-1 antitrypsin gene to treat alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; vectors carrying the normal cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene to treat cystic fibrosis; vasoactive intestinal peptide to treat asthma, pulmonary hypertension, and sarcoidosis; glutathione to treat cystic fibrosis; granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor to treat pulmonary alveolar proteinosis; calcitonin for postmenopausal osteoporosis; and insulin to treat diabetes. The success of these new aerosol applications will depend on many factors, such as: (1) developing gene therapy formulations that are safe for acute and chronic administrations to the lung, (2) improving the delivery of the genetic material beyond the airway mucus barrier and cell membrane and transferring the material to the cell cytoplasm or the cell nucleus, (3) developing aerosol devices that efficiently deliver genetic material and peptides to their lung targets over a short period of time, (4) developing devices that increase aerosol delivery to the lungs of infants, (5) optimizing the bioavailability of systemically delivered peptides, and (6) developing peptide formulations for systemic delivery that do not cause persistent cough or changes in lung function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)806-821
Number of pages16
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Aerosol non-viral vectors
  • Aerosol viral vectors
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin
  • Cystic fibrosis (CF)
  • Glutathione (GSH)
  • Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)
  • Insulin
  • Interfering RNA
  • Lung cancer
  • Vasoactive intestinal peptide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Aerosolized medications for gene and peptide therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this