Gene fuelled transporter causes breast cancer cells to self-destruct

Feb 28, 2011

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast have shown that they can deliver a gene directly into breast cancer cells causing them to self-destruct, using an innovative, miniscule gene transport system, according to research published today (28 February) in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

Using a transport system called a Designer Biomimetic Vector (DBV), Dr Helen McCarthy, from Queen's School of Pharmacy, funded by Campaign, packaged a gene into a nanoparticle 400 times smaller than the width of a human hair, allowing it to be delivered straight into in the laboratory.

The gene called iNOS, is targeted specifically to breast cancer cells using the DBV where it forces the cells to produce poisonous ; either killing the cells outright or making them more vulnerable to being destroyed by chemotherapy and . As this approach leaves normal healthy breast cells unaffected, this would overcome many of the toxic side effects of current treatments.

Further investigation is needed but it could be trialled in patients in as little as five years. Dr McCarthy's next step is to turn the into a dried powder that could be easily transported and reconstituted before being given to patients.

Dr McCarthy said: "A major stumbling block to using gene therapy in the past has been the lack of an effective delivery system. Combining the Designer Biomimetic Vector with the iNOS gene has proved successful in killing breast cancer cells in the laboratory. In the long term, I see this being used to treat people with metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the bones, ideally administered before radiotherapy and chemotherapy."

Dr Lisa Wilde, Research Information Senior Manager, Breast Cancer Campaign said: " could potentially be an exciting avenue for treating breast cancer. Although at an early stage, Dr McCarthy's laboratory research shows that this system for delivering toxic genes to tumour cells holds great promise and we look forward to seeing how it is translated into patients."

Explore further: International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

Provided by Queen's University Belfast

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gene study offers new target for breast cancer drugs

Aug 05, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A gene called POLQ is linked to an eight-fold risk of breast cancer returning, according to Oxford University research published in the journal OncoTarget. Developing drugs to block POLQ could increase surviv ...

Recommended for you

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

16 minutes ago

Researchers and doctors at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have co-developed the first molecular test ...

Brain tumour cells found circulating in blood

1 hour ago

(Medical Xpress)—German scientists have discovered rogue brain tumour cells in patient blood samples, challenging the idea that this type of cancer doesn't generally spread beyond the brain.

International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

2 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Imagine a targeted radiation therapy for cancer that could pinpoint and blast away tumors more effectively than traditional methods, with fewer side effects and less damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

Computer model reveals cancer's energy source

3 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—A computer model study reveals – for the first time – details of an energy-creating process vital and unique to cancer cells. The research holds promise for new interventions and for ...

User comments : 0