Gene Therapy for Cancer

Deceiving the malignant cell
  • Mark Lawler


Acquired genetic changes are fundamental to tumourigenesis, tumour progression and the development of resistance to chemotherapy induced apoptosis. Thus approaches which manipulate the genetic material of a cancer cell may prove fruitful in preventing or reversing the malignant phenotype. Gene therapy protocols in cancer have thus far outnumbered those for any other disease due to the fact that retroviral vectors, which were the principle “first generation” gene delivery systems, could deliver genes to cancer cells due to their higher proliferative capacity, as retroviral vectors can more readily integrate their therapeutic gene into the genomes of actively dividing cells. Thus over 60% of gene therapy protocols are cancer gene therapy protocols1. Successful cancer gene therapy depends on two principal elements (i) the selection of an appropriate gene and (ii) an effective gene transfer system. As many molecular changes in cancer involve a perturbation of the signal transduction pathway, there are numerous potential targets for a gene mediated treatment, either by introduction of a gene that will halt or stall cancer development or by prevention of “malignant” gene expression through antisense or antigene approaches. Cancer gene therapy protocols can involve a number of different strategies including (i) developing an immune response against the tumour by cancer vaccination strategies, (ii) causing the malignant tumour to be killed by intrioduction of a suicide gene into cancer cells, (iii) re-introduction of a functional tumour suppressor gene or (iv) downregulation of expression of an activated oncogene1–3. In this chapter some of these strategies will be elaborated on and the prospects for cancer gene will be addressed.


Gene Therapy Graft Versus Host Disease Suicide Gene Cancer Gene Therapy Cytosine Deaminase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Lawler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Haematology, St Patrick Dun Research LabsSt James’s Hospital and Trinity College DublinDublin 8Ireland

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