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Benitec’s Gene Silencing Technology Used by Johns Hopkins’ Scientists in the Development of a Treatment for Radio-Resistant Prostate Cancer

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Benitec Ltd has welcomed the publication of research by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, who demonstrated the potential of Benitec’s gene silencing technology to provide effective human therapeutics for prostate cancer. Their results were published this month in the prestigious international scientific journal The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The independent researchers in the US used a form of Benitec’s DNA-directed RNA interference technology (ddRNAi) as a key component of their therapeutic molecule in preclinical studies both in vitro and in vivo.

A short hairpin RNA (shRNA) molecule which silences a key repair gene was combined with a molecule which targets prostate cancer cells, resulting in the prostate cancer cells being unable to survive after treatment with radiotherapy.

“An estimated 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer…The risk of recurrence is…approximately 50% for men with locally advanced disease, a condition that is primarily managed by radiation therapy. Thus, new technologies that improve the therapeutic index of radiation therapy for local disease have the opportunity to significantly affect the morbidity and mortality of prostate cancer,” the researchers state in their paper.

The researchers concluded, “This targeted treatment markedly enhanced the benefits of radiation therapy in both cellular and tumor models….”

Encouragingly they also point out that the shRNAs used in this prostate cancer study could also be useful in many other radiotherapy-resistant cancers.

Benitec’s own R&D programs in the areas of drug-resistant lung cancer, chronic cancer-associated pain and hepatitis B are aimed at demonstrating the efficacy and safety of the technology which is capable of silencing any gene(s) associated with a serious life threatening human disease or medical condition.

Dr Peter French, CEO of Benitec said, “Whilst this study is still at an early stage, it is very pleasing to see the power and the potential of Benitec’s ddRNAi technology being demonstrated by independent researchers around the world to develop potential new therapies for the treatment of serious human diseases such as cancer. Benitec looks forward to partnering our patented technology with major pharmaceutical companies to facilitate bringing ddRNAi-based therapeutics to the market for the benefit of patients suffering from a range of disease conditions”.