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WSU researcher creates patented personalized therapy that causes cancer cells to kill themselves
Date:2/28/2011

A Wayne State University School of Medicine physician-researcher has developed a personalized therapy to treat a wide range of cancers. The treatment is based on a naturally occurring human enzyme that has been genetically modified to fool cancer cells into killing themselves.

The unique concept, patented by Wayne State University, was successfully demonstrated on melanoma cells that are resistant to routine treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Melanoma is a perfect model for testing this new therapy because it is considered the most aggressive form of human cancer due to its many defense mechanisms against available treatments. The success of the therapy in killing melanoma suggests a similar outcome in treating other cancers.

Developed by Karli Rosner, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and director of Research in the Department of Dermatology, the method uses genetic constructs that contain a genetically modified enzyme -- DNase1 protein -- to seek out and destroy cancer cells. The novel technology was published in the article "Engineering a waste management enzyme to overcome cancer resistance to apoptosis: adding DNase1 to the anti-cancer toolbox" in the Jan. 14 online edition of Cancer Gene Therapy, a Nature Publishing Group journal.

Dr. Rosner modified the genetic code for DNase1, a highly potent DNA-degrading enzyme, and altered its genetic composition by deleting a part of the code, mutating another part and adding an artificial piece of code. Through these changes, the altered DNA program is translated into a modified protein. In contrast to the natural protein, the modified protein will not be eliminated from the cancer cell, will resist deactivation by cell inhibitors and will gain access to the cell's nucleus. "If you imagine the cell's nucleus as a computer and DNA in the nucleus as computer software," Dr. Rosner explained, "then the altered, hacked DNA program corresponds to a computer virus."


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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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