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Gene therapy for colon cancer

Zwacka, RM and Dunlop, MG (1998) 'Gene therapy for colon cancer.' Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America, 12 (3). 595 - 615. ISSN 0889-8588

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Abstract

The enormous number of newly diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer that occur each year and the lack of agents that are highly effective for all patients underscore the need for novel approaches to combating the disease. Gene therapy as a developing treatment modality is already well established, with a number of trials ongoing and a vast range of other approaches being assessed in animal and cell culture experiments. In this brief review, we have discussed five gene therapy trials in colon carcinoma that are ongoing or in the approval process in the United States. The gene therapy approaches being employed can be divided into three major categories: (1) enzyme/prodrug systems (HSVtk/ganciclovir; CD/5-fluorocytosine); (2) tumor suppressor gene replacement therapy with wild-type p53; and (3) immune-gene therapy which is based on cytokine or tumor antigen expression to induce tumor immunity (e.g., CEA). Replication-deficient recombinant adenoviral vectors are predominantly used for colon cancer gene therapy, because they can be produced at high titer and they readily infect a number of different cell types. One trial uses polynucleotide therapy for antitumor immunization with intramuscular injection. All of these studies are phase I trials, principally designed to evaluate safety, but they will also provide data on gene delivery. Some trials may provide some insight into potential therapeutic effects. We have alluded to some of the concerns on toxicity related to the use of adenovirus, risks and side effects from transgenes, lack of tumor-specificity of transgene expression, and potential problems with efficient gene delivery to solid tumors. The clinical trials, however, will provide insight that will inform design of future studies with respect to dose, form, and frequency of administration, as well as to the value of biologic and clinical endpoints. The molecular analysis of the fundamental basis of colon cancer has moved at a remarkable pace and that progress seems set to continue. Thus, the basic foundations for gene therapy are undoubtedly in place: a clinical need; growing understanding of basic tumor biology; and ever-improving delivery systems. The field is at a very early stage in its evolution, and one concern is that the considerable hurdles that must be overcome are seen as examples of the failure of cancer gene therapy; however, we believe these challenges will be overcome. The authors also believe that colon cancer gene therapy is likely to take new directions, such as use as adjuvant to radical surgery, rather than attempts to treat end-stage disease when the liver is replaced by metastases. Other new directions might include prophylactic gene-based immunization against a panel of well-characterized tumor antigens, at least for persons shown to be at high risk of colon cancer because of genetic or other predisposition. A marriage between gene therapy approaches and conventional anticancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy also seems likely. There is already evidence of this move with demonstration of synergism between p53 replacement and radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It is also likely that therapies will be developed that combine elements from the cancer gene therapies discussed previously, namely, suicide gene transfer, immune modulation, and modulation of defective cancer genes. Perhaps one of the main concerns is not that researchers in cancer gene therapy want to walk before they can run, but that the public and government agencies believe they can. The next 10 years will be an interesting time in the development of novel treatments against colon cancer.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Biological Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2017 16:11
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 17:55
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/8352

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