August 6, 2008

Pancreatic Cancer Gene Therapy is Created

U.S. cancer researchers say they have developed a chemoprevention gene therapy that successfully kills pancreatic cancer cells.

Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center and Institute of Molecular Medicine discovered combining a dietary agent with a gene-delivered cytokine effectively eliminates human pancreatic cancer cells in mice.

Cytokines are a category of proteins that are secreted into the circulation and can affect cancer cells at distant sites in the body, including metastases, the researchers said. The cytokine used in the study was melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24, known as mda-7/IL-24. The dietary agent, perillyl alcohol, was combined with mda-7/IL-24, which is already used in other cancer treatments.

The results indicated the therapy not only prevented pancreatic cancer growth and progression, but it also effectively killed established tumors, thereby displaying profound chemopreventive and therapeutic activity.

"We are very excited at the prospect of (using) this chemoprevention gene therapy as a means of both preventing and treating pancreatic cancer, and it has significant potential to move rapidly into human clinical trials," said Professor Paul Fisher, who led the study.

The research is reported in the July issue of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.