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Gene Therapy for Brain Cancer

By September 29, 2008

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are investigating a new treatment for brain tumors - delivering a cancer fighting gene to healthy brain tissue that surrounds the tumor to keep it from spreading. The research has shown promise in lab animals in protecting healthy brain tissue from cancer growth. As with other forms of palliative treatment for cancer, gene therapy won't cure the illness but researchers are hopeful that the treatment will slow tumor growth, prevent spreading, and improve quality of life.

According to the MGH Public Affairs website:

"The researchers first pretreated immune-deficient mice by delivering a gene for human interferon-beta – a protein being tested against several types of cancer – into the animals’ brains using adeno-associated virus vectors known to effectively deliver genes to neurons in the brain without the immune reaction produced by other vectors. Two weeks later, human glioblastoma cells were injected into the same or adjacent areas of the animal’s brains. After only four days, mice expressing interferon-beta had significantly smaller tumors than did a control group pretreated with gene-free vector. Two weeks after the glioblastoma cells were introduced, the tumors had completely disappeared from the brains of the gene-therapy-treated mice."

There are still many questions to be answered and many more studies to be done.

"Since interferon-beta treatment is known to have side effects, it will be important to identify any toxicity caused by long term secretion of the protein in the brain and develop preventive strategies, such as turning off the introduced genes. Next the MGH team is planning to test this strategy on glioblastomas that occur naturally in dogs, which could not only generate additional data supporting human trials but also develop veterinary treatments for canine patients."

I'll be watching this study closely, hoping it is successful.

What is Palliative Chemotherapy?

Palliative Chemotherapy: 5 Questions for Your Oncologist

Comments
August 26, 2009 at 10:46 pm
(1) Glen says:

Marijuana should be pushed harder for use against brain cancer. Studys have shown that the introduction of THC into the brain triggers a cellular self-digestion process known as “autophagy,”

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