Genetic Testing Allows for Custom Cancer Treatments

Apr 21, 2011, 12:15 by David Hope

Genetic testing may well yield the customized cancer treatments patients have long hoped for. A Detroit physician-researcher says he developed a personalized therapy to treat several cancers using a genetically modified human enzyme.

Dr. Karli Rosner, assistant professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, said the method uses genetic constructs that contain a genetically modified enzyme -- DNase1 protein -- to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

The concept, patented by Wayne State University, was successfully demonstrated on melanoma (skin cancer) cells resistant to routine treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Rosner says melanoma is a perfect model for testing the therapy because it is considered the most aggressive form of human cancer due to its many defense mechanisms against available treatments.

The beauty of this therapy is that specifically targeted cancer cells destroy themselves through the physiological mechanism of apoptosis -- cell death -- leaving surrounding healthy cells intact leaving no residual debris to alert the immune system. Activation of the immune system is attributed to the unpleasant side effects of anti-cancer treatments, Rosner explains.

The finding is important because of the potential of this technology to treat a large variety of tumors, such as prostate, lung and breast cancers, Rosner says.

The findings are published in the journal Cancer Gene Therapy.

Source: UPI