Gene therapy to help treat bowel cancer in liver

Gene therapy has shown promise for the first time to help treat bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.

Gene therapy to help treat bowel cancer in liver

Gene therapy has shown promise for the first time to help treat bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.

Adelaide researchers showed the novel approach, which uses a modified virus to infect the liver, was able to shrink tumours in mice.

"We're very excited by these results," Dr Susan Woods, one of the investigators in the study that was published in the Gastroenterology journal, said.

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Further testing will be carried out to see whether the therapy could work for other cancers that travel to the liver such as tumours of the breast, lung and pancreas.

The modified virus exclusively targets the liver and introduces a copy of a gene that instructs the organ to make more cells called fibroblasts which are known to be good and slow cancer growth.

The team from SAHMRI and the University of Adelaide have been investigating why normal cells that surround the cancer are good while others are corrupted and promote tumour growth.

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"In bowel cancer, we know that patients with the poorest prognosis have a lot of these corrupted or bad tumour supporting fibroblasts," Dr Susan Woods said.

This type of gene therapy that uses a modified virus to enter the liver is currently being used on patients with blood disorders.

"This is the first sign that we could use this to treat cancer that has spread to the liver," Dr Woods said.

Bowel cancer survivor Hannah Devereux is heartened by the research and said there needs to be more treatment options for people who are diagnosed with the disease late, when it has already spread.

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Hannah was only 34 when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, soon after her second child was born.

"Had the baby, he was 10 days old, and they found two tumours. My world came crashing down," she said.

Hannah had complained about digestive symptoms during the pregnancy.

"The doctor just thought it was pregnancy related," she said.

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Hannah required intensive treatment for a year including six months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and two major surgeries.

She has now reached the five-year cancer-free milestone and is the ambassador of the Jodi Lee Foundation to prevent bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer affects more than 15,000 Australians each year and fewer than 50 per cent of cases are detected early.

More than 100 Australians each week die from bowel cancer.

Source : 9 News More