This is a very small clinical trial of 12 individuals with cancer, and any related treatment plans are still quite a few miles away, but more work with personalized medicine in progress. BD
This week, University of Michigan scientists will begin a phase 1 clinical trial for the treatment of cancer-related pain, using a novel gene transfer vector injected into the skin to deliver a pain-relieving gene to the nervous system. A gene transfer vector is an agent used to carry genes into cells. In this groundbreaking clinical trial, the investigators will use a vector created from herpes simplex virus (HSV) the virus that causes cold sores to deliver the gene for enkephalin, one of the body's own natural pain relievers.
The trial represents two firsts, says Fink: It is the first human trial of gene therapy for pain, and the first study to test a nonreplicating HSV-based vector to deliver a therapeutic gene to humans. Fink says the technique may hold promise for treating other types of chronic pain, including pain from nerve damage that occurs in many people with diabetes.
"We hope that this selective targeting will result in pain-relieving effects that cannot be achieved by systemic administration of opiate drugs, " Fink says. "This trial is the first step in bringing the therapy into clinical use. A treatment is at least several years off."