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‘Anti-cancer gene system pioneered’ | Breast Cancer Arabia
  • ‘Anti-cancer gene system pioneered’

    anti agingNew gene technology that can cause breast cancer cells to self-destruct has been pioneered by scientists at Belfast’s Queen’s University.


    Researchers have shown that by using an innovative, miniscule gene transport system they can deliver a gene directly into breast cancer cells, causing them to die.


    The transport system called a Designer Biomimetic Vector (DBV) packaged a gene into a nanoparticle 400 times smaller than the width of a human hair, allowing it to be delivered straight into breast cancer cells in the laboratory.


    Dr Helen McCarthy from Queen’s School of Pharmacy revealed details of the work, carried out with the help of funding from the Breast Cancer Campaign, in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.


    “A major stumbling block to using gene therapy in the past has been the lack of an effective delivery system,” Dr McCarthy said. “Combining the Designer Biomimetic Vector with the iNOS gene has proved successful in killing breast cancer cells in the laboratory.


    “In the long term, I see this being used to treat people with metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the bones, ideally administered before radiotherapy and chemotherapy.”

    The iNOS gene forces breast cancer cells to produce poisonous nitric oxide, either killing the cells outright or making them more vulnerable to being destroyed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As this approach leaves normal healthy breast cells unaffected, the experts said it would overcome many of the toxic side effects of current treatments.

    The university said further investigation is needed on the system, but said it could be trialled in patients in as little as five years.

    Dr McCarthy’s next step is to turn the nanoparticles into a dried powder that could be easily transported and reconstituted before being given to patients.

    Dr Lisa Wilde, of the Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “Gene therapy could potentially be an exciting avenue for treating breast cancer. Although at an early stage, Dr McCarthy’s laboratory research shows that this system for delivering toxic genes to tumour cells holds great promise and we look forward to seeing how it is translated into patients.”

    Source: The Press Association

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