As Thompson began to study the gene, he found that it was a target for a tumor suppressor gene called p53, which is a major controller of cell activity in prostate and other cancers. He found that the human form of the gene is normally present in benign prostate or low grade tumor but is lost as the tumors become more malignant."This characterized it as a tumor suppressor gene that is active in the prostate," said Kadmon.
When the gene is introduced into the tumors of animals lacking RTVP-1, it suppresses the formation of new blood vessels. It causes what is known as "apoptosis" or programmed cell death in prostate cancer cells and also activates the immune system to fight cancer cells.
"We are proceeding carefully, step-by-step," said Kadmon. He said they do not think the study presents a significant risk.
They will inject the virus-gene compound directly into the prostate. While there is a risk of infection with the injection, he said patients will receive antibiotics. Most patients will have some fever after the injection, but it can probably be handled with Tylenol.
Doctors will monitor patients after their surgery to determine the effect of the gene therapy on their disease.
Funding for the study, which will include as many as 36 subjects, comes from the National Cancer Institute and the Baylor Special Program for Research Excellence in Prostate Cancer that is NCI-funded.
Others involved in the study include Thompson, Dr. Brian J. Miles, BCM professor of urology; Dr. Adrian Gee, BCM professor of medicine and pediatrics in the section of hematology oncology; Dr. Thomas M. Wheeler, BCM professor of pathology and urology; Dr. Gustavo E. Ayala, BCM professor of pathology and urology; Dr. Martha P. Mims, BCM assistant professor of medicine in the section of hematology-oncology; and Dr. Teresa G. Hayes, BCM assistan
Source:Baylor College of Medicine