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Gene Therapy for Breast Cancer Therapy?

Posted Dec 01 2009 12:00am
New breast cancer research from the University of Granada explores the possibility of using gene therapy as a form of breast cancer therapy.  For their study, the breast cancer researchers treated cancer cells (lung, colon, and breast) in a cell culture system with chemotherapy drugs combined with a 'suicide' gene called Gene E.  The results of their initial studies suggest that co-treating with Gene E plus the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin successfully kills breast cancer cells (specifically MCF-7 breast cancer cells) and does so with a much lower dose of the chemotherapy drug.  According to the press release Gene E appears to work by inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis) and making the cancer cells more sensitive to the chemotherapy drug, thereby reducing the amount of drug needed to kill breast cancer tumor cells.

This is fascinating new breast cancer research; however, there appears to be a lot of work yet to be done to bring this research to the point where it can be used in a clinical setting.  This particular study was done in a cell culture system in specific cell types, so animal studies and eventually human studies will need to be done.  Additionally, studies in different types of breast cancer will also need to be conducted.  Nonetheless, this new breast cancer research shows some initial promise.  Gene therapy for breast (and other) cancer is not a completely new research avenue and there appears to be some real potential to gene therapy for breast cancer.  For this potential to be reached, a number obstacles will need to be overcome such as finding more effective ways of delivering the gene(s) to the correct cells, ensuring the safety of the procedures, and addressing potential ethical issues.  The National Cancer Institute has an excellent FACT SHEET on gene therapy if you would like to learn more.

The science and medical communities continue to make amazing discoveries in breast cancer therapy.  While great progress continues to be made, we can all make a difference in regards to our own personal breast cancer risk.  To learn more, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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