By using "suicide gene therapy" and chemotherapy together, scientists saw amazing results.
Scientists are very excited over a potential breakthrough that safely kills prostate tumor cells.
Using a treatment called “suicide gene therapy” in conjunction with chemotherapy, scientists were able to modify tumor cells so that the body’s immune system would turn on them and destroy them, according to a UPI report.
The gene modification strategy was used to treat 66 prostate cancer patients between 1999 and 2003. The patients were broken up into two groups, and those with less severe cases got radiotherapy treatment while those with more severe cases got both the radiotherapy as well as hormonal therapy. In addition, both groups got the suicide gene therapy.
The patients had an outstanding response to the treatment, with 97 percent of them surviving the study, and even those with severe cases posting a 94 percent survival rate — that’s between 5 and 20 percent better than survival rates for other, more established procedures.
The study was conducted at Houston Methodist Hospital. Brian Butler, who is the chair of the radiation oncology department at the hospital, said the suicide gene treatment was tested in patients who were given valacyclovir, which is an anti-herpes drug that manufactures thymidine kinase. “The combination attacked the herpes DNA, and the TK-producing tumor cells self-destructed, which is why the procedure is called ‘suicide gene therapy,'” he said in a statement.
Scientists also found that it also appears to work against tumor cells, and thus a vaccine was created with cancer cells from the patient that could significantly enhance current treatments for eradicating tumors.
The findings were published in the Journal of Radiation Oncology.