Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Researchers developing new gene delivery method

While they are still in very early stages of development, U.S. researchers may have found a a new gene therapy that 'hijacks' tumors, which in turn will cause the tumor to stop growing or deliver the chemotherapy in a more effective way. These 'targetable injectable vectors' are actually deactivated viruses carrying a modified gene straight to the tumor. Normally decreasing blood flow would kill the tumor, but this new method takes control of the actual vessel, restricting the tumor from growing and improving the delivery of the medication.

The team published the study, a very early proof-of-concept, in the journal PLOS ONE. They delivered a gene that caused the blood vessels only to glow green, but this proves the vectors' ability to cause any change at all in the cells. It also showed that they were able to specifically target the cells rather than surrounding healthy cells.

So how will this gene therapy know which cells to target? Scientists plan to program these invaders so that they won't harm healthy cells and will focus solely on vessels. What other types of blood related disease could benefit from this type of therapy? And how can this reduce the side effects from chemotherapy?

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