Good news for people suffering from prostate cancer. US scientists have discovered a new gene therapy technique, which can make patient’s body attack and kill the prostate cancer cells.
The technique causes the tumor cells destruct by themselves, thus giving it the name ‘suicide gene therapy’. The research has found a 20% improvement in patients suffering from prostate cancer five years after treatment.
Reportedly, over 41,000 men were diagnosed in the UK each year making it as the most common cancer in men.
The study conducted by the researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital has found that the suicide gene therapy when integrated with radiotherapy would be a promising treatment for prostate cancer in the future.
The therapy involves modification of cancer cells genetically so that it sends signals to the immune system to attack them. Generally, the body does not identify cancer cells as the enemy as they are evolved from normal healthy cells. The immune system of the body does not react to kill the dangerous cancer cells, which happens in the case of infections.
The technique involves usage of virus to carry the gene therapy into the tumor cells, which alerts patient’s immune system to attack the cancerous cells.
In two groups of people, one group received the gene therapy twice and the other group who is at a greater risk of prostate cancer has received the treatment three times. Both groups have received radiotherapy.
Survival rates after five years were shown upto 97% and 94%. The researchers stated the results showed a 5 to 20% improvement on previous studies of prostate cancer treatment.
And, cancer biopsy tests carried out for two years after the trail were found to be negative in 83% and 79% of the patients in two groups.
Dr Brian Butler from Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas stated that the therapy would change the way the cancer is treated. The procedure involves injecting the agent directly into the tumor and allowing the body to kill the cancer cells. In this therapy, the immune system has the ability to identify bad tumor cells, hence if the cells reproduce the body will kill them.