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Skin Flaps Deliver Cancer-fighting Therapy, ASPS Study Reveals
Date:5/8/2008

Treatment Provides "Blueprint" to Produce Therapeutic Proteins at Tumor Site

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Using gene therapy, plastic surgeons have delivered cancer fighting proteins through skin flaps placed on cancerous tumors on rats with a 79 percent reduction in tumor volume, according to a study in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery(R), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). This new delivery technique, which has yet to be tested in humans, did not cause toxicity in the body of rats; however, administering the same anti-tumor agent intravenously in humans has previously been shown to cause liver damage.

"This new technique may allow us to reprogram skin flaps, using gene therapy, to provide a blueprint for anti-tumor agents like Interleukin-12 to be produced in the tumor to kill cancer, while avoiding adverse side effects," said Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, ASPS Member and study senior author. "In this study we took skin flaps in animal models and delivered IL-12 directly to the tumor area with tremendous success. Since skin flaps are used thousands of times each year in cancer patients, this may potentially open up an entirely new area in plastic surgery and bring the specialty, once again, to the center of medicine."

Gene therapy has been heralded as a new tool to restrain or prevent tumor growth and recurrence in humans, but its use has been limited because of serious side effects and the difficulty in concentrating anti-tumor agents at the site of the cancer.

In the study, skin flaps (a mass of healthy tissue) taken from rats were injected with the gene for IL-12 into the flaps' blood supply. The flaps were then placed onto cancerous tumors on the rats.

The study found a 79 percent reduction in tumor volume for animals treated with IL-12 compared to control animals. The treatment allowed individual cells within the flap to be
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SOURCE American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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