Cancer is still a leading cause of death worldwide – accounting for about 13% of all deaths. Gene therapy could be highly effective in the treatment of cancer, but is limited by the lack of safe and efficacious delivery systems able to deliver therapeutic genes selectively to tumours by intravenous administration, without secondary effects to healthy tissues. Current gene delivery systems provide only low levels of protein expression in tumours and, in the case of viruses, have been associated with significant toxicity problems. Non-viral delivery systems generally deliver therapeutic DNA to the lung and the liver, but not to the tumours, after intravenous administration.
Researchers at the University of Strathclyde have identified a technique for delivering therapeutic genes to hard-to-reach tumours by intravenous administration without harming healthy tissue. During lab tests the "seek-and-destroy" therapy resulted in 90% of skin cancer tumours disappearing altogether. The team is now investigating the technique's effectiveness at treating different forms of the disease.
· Delivers therapeutic genes efficiently and selectively to tumours following intravenous administration
· Leaves healthy cells unaffected
· Fewer side-effects than traditional chemotherapy
Contact is welcomed from organisations interested in developing, licensing or exploiting this technology.