- A new combined cell-gene therapy for lung cancer will be tested on National Health Service (NHS) patients this year, after receiving £2m (US$3m) of funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC).
- The new treatment works by genetically modifying bone marrow stem cells to express an anti-cancer gene called TRAIL. Being encased within a cell protects the genetic material from being degraded by the body, so that when it reaches the tumour it is able to trigger a signalling pathway that kills the cancer cells.
- Early tests have shown it can significantly reduce and in some cases eliminate tumours in mice. Researchers will now test the treatment in human volunteers – firstly to check that the treatment is safe, then in 56 lung cancer patients to see how effective the gene/cell therapy plus chemotherapy is compared with standard care.
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