Cancer Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is a novel approach to treat, cure, and ultimately prevent disease by correcting defective genes in the body. It's main aim is to correct the defects at the DNA level and prevent further recurrence.

There are essentially two forms of gene therapy


The fundamental task for gene therapy is to devise methods for delivering the genetic material into the target cells in a specific, efficient, sustainable and safe manner. Only the cancer cells must be targeted and the healthy cells must remain unaffected. The problem of "drug delivery", where the gene is the drug, is particularly challenging for genes that are large and complex and require targeting to the nuclei of cells.

Gene delivery vehicles called "vectors" are being employed for therapeutic gene delivery to the cells. Viruses are currently employed as vectors.The virulent part of the virus is removed and is replaced with therapeutic recombinant genes. However, the immune and inflammatory responses of the patient often interfere with this method of delivery.

In another approach, naked DNA, proteins or lipids are used for delivering the genetic material.

Gene therapy is still in its infancy with most human clinical trials in the research stages. The approaches which are currently employed in cancer gene therapy are:

  • Re-activation of tumour suppressor genes
  • Blocking the expression of oncogene
  • Delivery of suicide genes to cancerous cells
  • Immunogene therapy

A detailed account of every approach is given in the following external link.