Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find that combined gene therapy eliminates glioblastoma multiforme in lab studies

15.08.2005


Despite aggressive treatment, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most common and deadly of brain cancers – usually claims the lives of its victims within six to 12 months of diagnosis. Because GBM is so aggressive, the disease has been the target of a number of laboratory and clinical studies investigating the effectiveness of gene therapy to deliver novel therapies to the brain. In laboratory studies, this type of gene therapy has proved almost completely effective. But in clinical trials, it has had limited effectiveness.



To overcome these limitations, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center developed a large brain tumor model in laboratory rats that would more accurately predict the outcome of gene therapies in patients. In addition, they tested a genetically engineered virus to deliver two proteins directly to the brain. Their findings, reported in the August 15th issue of the journal Cancer Research, show that the majority of rats bearing large tumors were still alive six months after combined treatment with two proteins: RAdTK, a protein that kills cancer cells, and RAdFlt3L, which stimulates immune or dendritic cells in the brain.

"Our study shows that GBM tumors were completely eliminated in lab rats, likely because the two proteins increase the production of fully mature immune cells within the brain," said Maria Castro, Ph.D., co-director of the Gene Therapeutics Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the senior author of the study. "This suggests that combined RAdFlt3L and RAdTK gene therapy may ultimately provide an effective treatment for patients undergoing clinical trials with GBM."


GBM tumors derive from brain astrocytes, a cell that normally supports and nurtures the brain’s neurons. GBM grows quickly, often becoming very large before any symptoms are experienced. Once GBM is diagnosed, conventional treatment begins with surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible and is then followed with radiation and/or chemotherapy to slow progression of the disease. But despite aggressive treatment, the tumors recur and patients usually die within a year’s time.

To find another way to more effectively treat GBM, scientists have begun investigating the use of gene therapy to deliver novel therapeutic agents directly to the brain. Typically, these studies have tested the use of the suicide gene from the herpes simplex virus to develop a gene therapy approach that kills cancer cells in the presence of the antiviral drug – gancyclovir. In laboratory studies, this type of gene therapy has proved almost 100 percent effective. But in clinical trials, it has had limited effectiveness, suggesting that the tumor mass is too large for the gene to effect long-term.

"Because we haven’t seen the same positive results with gene therapy in clinical trials that we’ve seen treating GBM in laboratory rats, we realized that we needed to design a better model that more closely mimicked these tumors in patients," Castro said. "We also wanted to test whether a combined gene therapy strategy using proteins known to kill cancer cells or promote an immune response would work to eliminate these larger tumors in the rats."

Gene therapy is an experimental treatment that uses genetically engineered viruses to transport genes and/or proteins into cells. Just like a viral infection, the viruses work by tricking cells into accepting them as part of their own genetic coding. To make them safe, scientists remove the genetic viral genes that cause infection and engineer them so that they stop reproducing after they have delivered the therapeutic genes.

In this study, the researchers first developed a large GBM tumor model and implanted them in rats, allowing the tumor to grow for 10 days, when they were at their largest. Secondly, the investigators tested the effectiveness of various gene therapies used in combination or individually to see whether they would shrink or eliminate tumors.

To determine whether the size of the tumor significantly affected survival, the researches implanted both large and smaller GBM tumors in rats. The investigators then treated rats bearing GBM tumors with single or combined gene therapies (RAdTK and/or RAdFlt3l), or a saline placebo, as a control. They found that RAdTK treatment was 100 percent effective when delivered into small tumors, but only 20 percent effective when injected into large tumors. RAdFlt3L, on the other hand, was 60 percent effective if delivered into small tumors, but failed completely if injected into the large tumors. But when both RAdTK and RAdFlt3l were given in combination, the investigators found 70 percent of rats were still alive after six months of treatment and that the large GBM tumors had completely disappeared or shrank significantly.

"Just as with patients, our results emphasize that tumor size at the time of treatment is critical to predict clinical outcome," said Pedro Lowenstein, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Gene Therapeutic Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai. "Our model reproduces more closely the human disease condition where tumor size at the time of treatment determines how well the patient will respond to therapies."

"Our results show for the first time, that we could elicit a potent and stable anti-tumor immune response in the brains of rats bearing large GBM tumors," Castro said. "In these pre-clinical studies, combined gene therapy treatment with RAdTK and RAdFlt3L dramatically increased survival, without adverse immune reactions in the brain."

Kelli Hanley | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cshs.org
http://www.csmc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Research team of the HAW Hamburg reanimated ancestral microbe from the depth of the earth
01.03.2017 | Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg

nachricht Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells
01.03.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A better way to measure the stiffness of cancer cells

01.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Exploring the mysteries of supercooled water

01.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Research team of the HAW Hamburg reanimated ancestral microbe from the depth of the earth

01.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>