Improving suicide-gene therapy for the treatment of cancer.
The University of Glasgow has developed a telomerase targeted adenoviral suicide-gene therapy vector (Ad-hTR-NTR) which has been extensively tested on Ovarian cancer cells.
Suicide-gene therapy aims to selectively target cancer cells without harming normal cells thus reducing the toxicity associated with conventional therapies.
To achieve this selectivity, gene therapy approaches require mechanisms to regulate and limit the expression of therapeutic genes to cancer cells .Achieving this aim remains a challenge for the development of clinically useful suicide gene-therapy.
In-vitro/in-vivo experiments against ovarian cancer cells have confirmed that this construct provides efficient cancer cell kill whilst minimising harmful effects on normal cells.
Tumour-specific gene promoters can be used for transcriptional targeting to improve selectivity and increase therapeutic index. However until recently this has been difficult as many tumour specific promoters show weak transcriptional activity and are unable to drive efficient expression of the therapeutic gene. In addition, the promoter activity is often restricted to one tumour type for example HER2/NEU positive is limited to use with breast cancer.