Gene fuelled transporter causes breast cancer cells to self-destruct
Belfast – Irish scientists have triggered self-destruction of breast cancer cells by transferring the gene, which encodes cytokine inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS-2 or iNOS), into the tumour cells. Clinical testing of the new gene cancer therapy, which relies on the iNOS-driven formation of toxic nitric oxide (NO) from L-arginine, is in reach within 5 years, the team headed by Dr Helen McCarthy from Queen's School of Pharmacy reported in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics (Feb. 28). For gene delivery, the researchers used a so-called Designer Biomimetic Vector, which targets the iNOS gene specifically to breast cancer cells. The idea is to turn the nanoparticles 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."