Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have discovered a way to overcome one of the major hurdles in gene therapy for cancer: its tendency to kill normal cells in the process of eradicating cancer cells.
In a new study published in the Jan. 25 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers demonstrated that the technique works by incorporating it into a specially designed virus. The virus eradicated prostate cancer cells in the lab and in animals while leaving normal cells unscathed.
Gene therapy based on the new technique should also be effective for a wide range of tumors - such as ovarian, breast, brain (glioma), skin (melanoma) and colon cancer - because the virus is constructed to exploit a characteristic of all solid cancers. "Whats exciting is we may now be able to design a therapy that will seek out and destroy only cancer cells," said the studys senior author, Paul B. Fisher, Ph.D., professor of clinical pathology and Michael and Stella Chernow Urological Cancer Research Scientist at Columbia University Medical Center. "We hope it will be particularly powerful in eradicating metastases that we cant see and that cant be eliminated by surgery or radiation. Gene therapy, especially for cancer, is really starting to make a comeback."
Elizabeth Streich | EurekAlert!
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