Gene therapy trial using cold virus to begin at UK

LEXINGTON, KY -- For the first time at the University of Kentucky, researchers are beginning a Phase II clinical trial to evaluate a gene therapy product that may be used as a treatment for ovarian cancer. The clinical trial will evaluate the effectiveness of the p53 gene inserted into an adenovirus (common cold virus) in combination with standard surgery and chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer that has spread to the abdominal cavity.

"Gene therapy is a novel approach to the treatment of ovarian cancer, as well as several other types of cancer," said Holly Gallion, M.D., professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UK College of Medicine, and principal investigator at UK for the clinical trial. "We hope that gene therapy will prove to be another effective tool to fight ovarian cancer, along with surgery and chemotherapy."

Many diseases, including cancer, result from defective, or mutated, genes in cells. The goal of gene therapy is to deliver a correct copy of the mutated gene directly to the nucleus of the abnormal cells, thereby restoring normal function of the gene.

To insert the corrective gene into the nucleus, the corrective gene can be encapsulated in liposomes, small balls made of molecules that resemble cell membranes, or viruses. The adenovirus, or common cold virus, often is used as the gene-delivery vector in gene therapy.

Ovarian cancer is the most serious of all gynecological cancers. It is the fifth most common cancer among women, accounting for 4 percent of all cancers in women. According to the American Cancer Society, about 25,200 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 1999, and about 14,500 women will die from it.

About 76 percent of ovarian cancer patients survive one year after diagnosis, and more than 40 percent survive longer than five years. If diagnosed and treated early, before the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries, 9

Contact: Maureen McArthur
University of Kentucky Medical Center

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