Using a virus to carry the gene therapy into the tumour cells, the result is that the cells self-destruct, alerting the patient’s immune system that it is time to launch a massive attack.
In two groups of 62 patients, one group received the gene therapy twice and the other group – who all had more aggressive prostate #cancer – received the treatment three times.
Survival rates after five years were 97% and 94%. Although there was no control group in this study, the researchers said the results showed a five to 20% improvement on previous studies of prostate cancer treatment.
Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said the results were “very interesting” but more research was needed.
The study, led by researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, appears to show that this ‘suicide gene therapy’, when combined with radiotherapy, could be a promising treatment for prostate cancer in the future.