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Development of new anti-cancer gene therapy approach using lentiviral vectors

Neuherberg, March 29, 2010. Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen has launched a new cooperative project with SIRION BIOTECH GmbH in Martinsried to develop new therapeutic approaches against lymphoid tumors. With a two-year grant from the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology, the two partners will seek to further develop lentiviral vector systems to better understand the disease mechanisms of this cancer form and to devise approaches for treatment.

The future of gene therapy approaches in cancer treatment is especially dependent on the quality of the vectors involved in the regulation of gene expression in the tumor cells. Lentiviruses are a very promising vector system for this they even reach difficult-to-access cell types such as the hematopoietic cells of the blood-forming system.

With their new research cooperation Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen and SIRION BIOTECH seek to optimize the use of lentiviruses as gene vectors for hematopoietic cells. Over the long term this may result in an important step forward in the therapy of malignant lymphomas. The Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology is funding the project over the next two years with approximately 500,000 euros.

"We quite consciously decided on a cooperation partner from the biotech sector," said Professor Gnther Wess, scientific-technical director of Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen. "The symbiosis of our scientific expertise in the field of lentiviruses with the technical know-how of SIRION BIOTECH promises to yield valuable insights about the molecular disease mechanisms and the function of disease-relevant genes in the blood cells."

Dr. Nataa Anastasov, who is in charge of the project at the Institute of Radiation Biology of Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen, and her colleagues from SIRION BIOTECH already have concrete ideas regarding the new generation of lentiviruses: "We want to specifically refine the lentiviral vectors to target the tumor cell markers." To achieve this, the researchers first want to develop new cell lines in the laboratory with improved binding characteristics for virus production.

"We are very pleased that Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen has chosen to cooperate with our company due to our specialization in genetically modified cells and viral vector technologies," said Dr. Jrgen Flach, CEO of SIRION BIOTECH. Both cooperation partners are confident that over the long term they can make an important contribution to the treatment of lymphomas.


Contact: Sven Winkler
Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health

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