Dr. Smith’s research focuses in two areas of genetic therapy, gene therapies for inherited muscular dystrophies, and genetic approaches to therapy for cancer.
Dr. Smith’s research program in muscular dystrophies is currently focused on identifying canine models of these diseases and applying novel genetic therapies to their treatment. Currently, four models of X-linked Duchenne-like muscular dystrophy (DMD), as well as an autosomal recessive muscular dystrophy (aka ARMD, PTPLA deficeincy, Labrador Retriver Myopathy) are being studied.
The laboratory has identified the gene defects in several DMD models and is working on identifying the pathogenic effects of the gene defects in ARMD. The laboratory will then use these models to develop gene therapy approaches to the muscular dystrophies, as well as
Dr. Smith’s research program on immunologic and gene therapy for cancer is part of a large collaborative program involving multiple investigators from Auburn University, Washington University, St. Louis and the University of Alabama, Birmingham. This includes the following areas:
- Conditionally replicative adenoviruses (CRADs) for canine osteosarcoma. These viruses have been tested and encouraging results were seen in a small clinical trial. Additional clinical trials in dogs with this tumor are being pursued.
- Tumor cell targeted suicide gene therapy in canine lymphoma. This work is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and involves specifically targeting viral verctors to lymphoma cells and delivery to genes that may be induced to kill the tumor cells.
- Dendritic cell fusion vaccines in canine mammary cancer (Dr. R. Curtis Bird, PI). These vaccines use autologous dendritic cells fused with canine breast cancer cell lines to create anti-tumor immune responses.