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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 Jan 1;89(1):21-39.

Gene therapy for cancer: what have we done and where are we going?

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  • 1Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.


Gene-based therapies for cancer in clinical trials include strategies that involve augmentation of immunotherapeutic and chemotherapeutic approaches. These strategies include ex vivo and in vivo cytokine gene transfer, drug sensitization with genes for prodrug delivery, and the use of drug-resistance genes for bone marrow protection from high-dose chemotherapy. Inactivation of oncogene expression and gene replacement for tumor suppressor genes are among the strategies for targeting the underlying genetic lesions in the cancer cell. A review of clinical trial results to date, primarily in patients with very advanced cancers refractory to conventional treatments, indicates that these treatments can mediate tumor regression with acceptably low toxicity. Vector development remains a critical area for future research. Important areas for future research include modifying viral vectors to reduce toxicity and immunogenicity, increasing the transduction efficiency of nonviral vectors, enhancing vector targeting and specificity, regulating gene expression, and identifying synergies between gene-based agents and other cancer therapeutics.

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