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Mol Ther. 2008 Oct;16(10):1695-702. doi: 10.1038/mt.2008.168. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Preventing growth of brain tumors by creating a zone of resistance.

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Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Neuroscience Program, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a devastating form of brain cancer for which there is no effective treatment. Here, we report a novel approach to brain tumor therapy through genetic modification of normal brain cells to block tumor growth and effect tumor regression. Previous studies have focused on the use of vector-based gene therapy for GBM by direct intratumoral injection with expression of therapeutic proteins by tumor cells themselves. However, as antitumor proteins are generally lethal to tumor cells, the therapeutic reservoir is rapidly depleted, allowing escape of residual tumor cells. Moreover, it has been difficult to achieve consistent transduction of these highly heterogeneous tumors. In our studies, we found that transduction of normal cells in the brain with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector encoding interferon-beta (IFN-beta) was sufficient to completely prevent tumor growth in orthotopic xenograft models of GBM, even in the contralateral hemisphere. In addition, complete eradication of established tumors was achieved through expression of IFN-beta by neurons using a neuronal-restricted promoter. To our knowledge this is the first direct demonstration of the efficacy of targeting gene delivery exclusively to normal brain cells for brain tumor therapy.

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