Gene therapy shows great promise for lung cancer

In mice with up to 200 lung tumours and given a new gene therapy treatment for four weeks, followed by four-week rest periods for more than a year, only 2 cases failed to have their tumours disappear (Genesand Development). The therapy targeted a protein known as Myc, which plays an important role in cells but can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and the onset of cancer if it is over produced by the body.  
The gene therapy aims to block this production, but scientists were worried about possible side-effects.
Lead researcher, Dr Laura Soucek of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, said "We’re so excited about reaching this turning point and I am quite certain that it will change the course of cancer therapy, despite there being a long road ahead".
The mice were given an antibiotic in their drinking water which activated a mutant gene known as Omomyc, and this in turn blocked the production of Myc.
After the first treatment all the mice’s tumours disappeared, but 63 per cent then relapsed.  Following the second treatment, only 11 per cent of the original tumours resurfaced.  After eight therapy cycles, only two tumours could be identified.  Dr Soucek said "The most important finding was that there were no signs of resistance to treatment.  This is one of the biggest disadvantages of many anticancer therapies; the disease develops resistance and can return even more aggressively.

April - June Cancer Watch 2013
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