VCU scientist preps gene therapy/drug combo for PhI prostate cancer study

VCU's Paul B. Fisher

A group of investigators at Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine say that a new animal study highlights the promise of a gene therapy tied to an experimental cancer drug in hitting metastatic prostate cancer.

Paul B. Fisher says he used tiny gas bubbles to carry a "cancer terminator virus" which replicates specifically in the cancer cells, delivering the toxic cytokine gene mda-7/IL-24 directly to the tumor.

The team also applied the experimental BI-97D6, which hits the protective, anti-apoptosis gene MCL-1 and other Bcl-2 gene family members.

After some preliminary tox work, Fisher is looking to set up a Phase I human study.

"We are at a point in our research where we have validated the efficacy of this combination treatment approach in preclinical animal models, and we now need to define its safety through toxicology and pharmacology studies," says Fisher. "We are hopeful that this research will culminate in the development of a phase 1 clinical trial that will test the safety of this novel approach and potentially lead to an effective new therapy for advanced prostate cancer."

- here's the release