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Cancer Gene Ther. 2013 May;20(5):290-7. doi: 10.1038/cgt.2013.19. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

Ultrasound-targeted HSVtk and Timp3 gene delivery for synergistically enhanced antitumor effects in hepatoma.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, China.


Cancer gene therapy has great potential for decreasing tumor-induced mortality but has been clinically limited by non-targeted and insufficient gene transfer. We evaluated gene therapy targeting hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) using the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase/ganciclovir (HSVtk/GCV) suicide gene system and the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (Timp3) gene. Ultrasound-targeted microbubble destruction (UTMD) targeted gene delivery to the tumor tissue, and the α-fetoprotein promoter targeted HSVtk expression to the HCC cells. Human HepG2 cells transfected with the HSVtk or Timp3 gene demonstrated a reduction in cell viability by >40% compared with the vector control. Cell viability was further inhibited by over 50% with co-transfection of the genes. HepG2 cells were inoculated subcutaneously into athymic mice to induce tumors. UTMD-mediated delivery of HSVtk or Timp3 suppressed tumor growth by >45% and increased survival of tumor-bearing animals (P<0.01 vs vector control). Co-delivery of the genes resulted in a further 30% improvement in tumor suppression and significant extension of animal survival (P<0.01 vs vector control). Targeted gene delivery increased the number of apoptotic cells and decreased the vascular density of the tumors. Targeted co-delivery of the genes synergistically improved the antitumor effects and may provide an effective therapy for HCC.

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