Breakthrough in prostate cancer gene therapy procedure

Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 00:00

A new way of fighting prostate cancer by targeting normal cells inside tumours could lead to a revolution in treatment, it has been claimed.

Scientists in Britain switched on key genes inside non-cancerous connective tissue cells within tumours.

In mice, the gene therapy procedure caused tumours to shrink dramatically by 75 per cent. Researchers now want to know whether a similar approach will work in humans.

Like other solid cancers, prostate tumours are a mixture of malignant and normal cells.

But recent work suggests that “healthy” cells in tumours can play an important role in stimulating cancer growth and spread.

The new research used a virus to infect prostate tumours and switch on certain key genes in fibroblast cells.

This appeared to activate signal pathways which led to the suppression of cancer.

Lead scientist Dr Axel Thomson said this was an “extremely exciting development”. – (PA)