Gene therapy kills prostate cancer cells
There is a new gene therapy recently discovered by the scientists which causes prostate cancer cells to destruct themselves. This method helps in self-destruction of the tumour cells which are in the body. Thus it is being named as the “suicide gene therapy”. According to this research, patients 20% improvement is seen with prostate cancer five years after treatment. But still more research was needed to know if it is truly effective as said by a cancer expert. This clinical trial was conducted by cancer researchers at Houston Methodist Hospital.
Research shows that prostate cancer is more common in the United Kingdom with almost 41,000 diagnosed every year.
“We strategically used an adenovirus, similar to the one that causes the common cold, to carry the therapy agent–a herpes virus gene that produces the enzyme thymidine kinase, or TK–directly into the tumor cells,” said E. Brian Butler, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Houston Methodist and senior author on the JRO paper. “Once the herpes virus gene was delivered and it started manufacturing TK, we gave patients a commonly used anti-herpes drug, valacyclovir. The combination attacked the herpes DNA, and the TK-producing tumor cells self-destructed, which is why the procedure is called ‘suicide gene therapy.'”
Butler said that once the activated valacyclovir (trade name: Valtrex) starts destroying tumor cells, it also alerts the patient’s immune system, previously unaware of the cancer’s presence, that it is time to launch a massive attack.
Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said the results were “very interesting” but more research was needed.
“We would need a randomised trial to tell if this treatment is better than radiotherapy alone.
“The viruses used in this study cannot reproduce. Next generation viral therapies for cancer can selectively replicate in cancer cells, something that can kill the cancer cell directly, and also help spread the virus to neighbouring cancer cells.
“It would be interesting to see this approach used with viruses that could reproduce to see if it makes for a more effective treatment.”
Source: BBC , Houston Methodist , Science Daily