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December 22, 2010

Gene Therapy Advances Kidney Cancer Treatment


Combining an FDA-approved drug treatment for kidney cancer with an adenovirus has been shown to kill cancer cells not only at the primary tumor site but also in distant tumors not directly infected by the virus. This finding promises new treatment options for kidney cancer patients whose disease has spread outside the kidney. Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) have published their findings on the combined treatment in the journal Cancer Biology & TherapyPaul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., a cancer researcher at VCU Massey and chair of the department of human and molecular genetics. “Our ultimate goal is to move our research from the laboratory to patients. 

And based on our findings, we hope these therapies will be effective against a variety of cancers.”The current research was developed by Dent and Fisher at VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VIMM, and the method by which the virus infects the cancer cells was developed in collaboration with Curiel. The investigators hope to advance the research to a Phase I clinical trial on patients with metastatic kidney cancer, and also are investigating the use of MDA-7/IL-24 gene therapy on other diseases, including melanoma and brain, prostate, pancreatic, breast and colon cancers. More information is available on the BCU Massey Cancer Center
web site.. 

Researchers tested Sorafenib (Nexavar), a drug approved by the FDA to treat kidney cancer, in conjunction with a novel adenovirus (Ad.5/3-mda-7). The Ad.5/3-mda-7 adenovirus used in this study was engineered to cause kidney cancer cells and normal cells protecting the kidneys to express the cancer-killing protein MDA (News - Alert)-7/IL-24. “While further research is needed, this therapy could be a novel and effective way to treat metastatic kidney cancer and prolong patient survival,” says Paul Dent, Ph.D. distinguished professor in cancer cell signaling at VCU Massey, vice chair of the department of neurosurgery and co-author of the study. 

“This is the first study to clearly define that gene therapeutic delivery of MDA-7/IL-24 in kidney cancer should be explored in the clinic, especially since we’ve demonstrated an established, FDA-approved drug enhances its toxicity to cancer cells.”“Adenoviral gene therapies are still very new, but they represent a potentially powerful tool in the fight against cancer,” says


Ms. Graham is a writer and editor with a current focus on health and wellness. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda

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