Lung cancer remains one of the greatest public health threats, despite advancement in the understanding of molecular genetics. We have been accumulating preliminary data and developing reagents for this project for the past two years, and we are encouraged by the early results of using PUMA, a protein, as a novel target to selectively encourage apoptosis, cell death, in lung cancer cells. With this funding, we will be able to expand the research into animal model trials, and it is our hope that these efforts will allow us to examine the feasibility of moving PUMA gene therapy towards clinical trials.
Recently, the use of tumor-killing viruses has gained favor in cancer gene therapy in an approach that has become known as “virotherapy.” Virotherapy exploits viruses that are able to target and destroy cancer cells, while sparing the surrounding normal tissue. We are developing a virotherapy approach for the treatment of prostate cancer based on infection with Sindbis virus.
The ability of Sindbis virus to travel rapidly throughout the body in the bloodstream will improve access to metastasized cancer cells. We intend first to develop and test these agents in cultured cells. We will then test and optimize the ability of the virus to cure prostate cancer.