Gene therapy (cancer)
Nemunaitis, John Department of Oncology, Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers, Dallas, Texas.
- Signal targeting
- Gene therapeutics
- RNA interference
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Since 1970, the median survival of patients having advanced cancer with optimal standard systemic treatment has remained less than 1 year. To increase survival rates, gene therapy has emerged as a new cancer treatment plan. Gene therapy is defined as the introduction of a functional copy of a curative gene into a patient in order to achieve a therapeutic objective. In 1973, a technique to introduce DNA into mammalian cells was developed. The first preclinical attempt to use gene insertion for therapy in animals was done in 1994. In this case, a growth hormone gene was inserted into cells and injected into mice with deficient growth hormone production. The growth hormone gene was introduced successfully, and a functional protein product was expressed as a result. Since then, gene therapy has progressed, providing opportunities for many new directions in cancer management. One opportunity can be characterized as a process involving “personalized molecular therapeutics.” There are six key alternatives of the neoplastic physiolome (a set of physiologic features) that dictate malignant growth: (1) self-sufficiency; (2) insensitivity to growth inhibition, including immune escape (the ability to avoid immune-mediated rejection); (3) independence from programmed cell death (apoptosis); (4) unlimited replicative potential; (5) sustained angiogenesis (the development of blood vessels); and (6) local/distal tissue invasion capacity.
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