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Lancet. 2013 May 25;381(9880):1835-43. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62166-7. Epub 2013 May 7.

Safety and tolerability of an intratumorally injected DNAzyme, Dz13, in patients with nodular basal-cell carcinoma: a phase 1 first-in-human trial (DISCOVER).

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  • 1Dermatology, Sydney Medical School, Bosch Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



The nuclear transcription factor c-Jun is preferentially expressed in basal-cell carcinoma. Dz13 is a deoxyribozyme that targets JUN messenger RNA and has inhibited the growth of a range of tumours in mice. We did a phase 1 study to assess safety and tolerability in human beings.


Adults with nodular basal-cell carcinoma were recruited from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia, between September, 2010, and October, 2011. Patients were assigned to receive one intratumoral injected dose of 10, 30, or 100 μg Dz13, in a 50 μL volume of lipid carrier, and were assessed for adverse effects in the first 24 h then at 7, 14, and 28 days after injection. Treated tumours were surgically excised 14 days after injection and compared with the baseline biopsy samples for expression of c-Jun and tumorigenesis markers.


Nine patients were recruited, of whom three received each dose of Dz13. All patients completed the study with no drug-related serious adverse events. No systemic Dz13 exposure was detected. c-Jun expression was reduced in the excised tumours of all nine (100%) patients, compared with baseline, and histological tumour depth had decreased in five (56%) of nine. Proportions of cells positive for caspases 3, 8, and 9 and P53 were increased, but those of cells positive for Bcl-2 and MMP-9 were decreased. Infiltration by inflammatory and immune cells was stimulated.


Dz13 was safe and well tolerated after single intratumoral injections at all doses.


Cancer Institute NSW, Cancer Council Australia, and National Health and Medical Research Council.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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