September 25, 2008

Toxic Genes Kill Pancreatic Cancer Cells

U.S. scientists say they've created a technique in which nanoparticles are used to deliver a deadly diphtheria toxic gene that kills pancreatic cancer cells.

The scientists from Thomas Jefferson University's medical college and Kimmel Cancer Center said their achievement marks the first time such a strategy has been tested in pancreatic cancer cells, and its success offers promise for future pre-clinical animal studies, and, possibly, a new clinical approach.

The researchers found delivery of a diphtheria toxin gene inhibited a basic function of pancreatic tumor cells by more than 95 percent, resulting in significant cell death of pancreatic cancer cells six days after a single treatment. They also determined the treatment targets only pancreatic cancer cells and leaves normal cells alone.

"For the pancreatic cancer world, this is very exciting," said lead author, Assistant Professor Jonathan Brody. "We can't help being hopeful. Our findings suggest that such a strategy will work in the clinical setting against the majority of pancreatic tumors."

The study is to appear in the October issue of the journal Cancer Biology & Therapy.