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Columbia scientists develop cancer terminator viruses

irus did, this virus carried a gene called mda-7/IL-24, a novel gene identified and cloned in Dr. Fisher's laboratory, which is selectively toxic to cancer cells and is now in phase II clinical trials as a cancer gene therapeutic.

"We are extremely excited about these results and the prospect of one day using a form of the cancer terminator virus in human clinical trials," said Dr. Fisher, the study's senior author. "While the results of these trials need to be investigated further and replicated in future trials, we believe that viral-based therapies will someday soon be a standard part of the cancer armamentarium."

About the "Terminator" Viruses

The "terminator" viruses have the potential to become effective treatments for a wide range of tumors - such as ovarian, pancreatic, breast, brain (glioma), prostate, skin (melanoma) and colon cancer - because the virus is constructed to exploit a characteristic of all solid cancers. However, clinical trials are necessary before such treatments can be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and available for patients.

These publications are a continuation of research published in the Jan. 25, 2005 issue of PNAS, where the same research team, also led by Dr. Fisher, incorporated gene therapy into a specially designed non-replicating virus to overcome one of the major hurdles of gene therapy: its tendency to kill normal cells in the process of eradicating cancer cells. The virus eradicated prostate cancer cells in the lab and in animals, while leaving normal cells unscathed.

The present cancer "terminator" viruses represent the next generation of therapeutic viruses that permit replication uniquely in cancer cells with simultaneous production of immune modulating and toxic genes. These viruses effectively eliminate primary tumors and distant tumors (metastases) without harming normal cells or tissues.

Dr. Fisher's cancer research team includes Columbia Un
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Source:Columbia University Medical Center


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