Scientists Kill Cancer Cells With "Trojan Horse"
News Jul 02, 2009
Australian scientists have developed a "trojan horse" therapy to combat cancer, using a bacterially-derived nano cell to penetrate and disarm the cancer cell before a second nano cell kills it with chemotherapy drugs.
The "trojan horse" therapy has the potential to directly target cancer cells with chemotherapy, rather than the current treatment that sees chemotherapy drugs injected into a cancer patient and attacking both cancer and healthy cells.
Sydney scientists Dr Jennifer MacDiarmid and Dr Himanshu Brahmbhatt, who formed EnGenelC Pty Ltd in 2001, said they had achieved 100 percent survival in mice with human cancer cells by using the "trojan horse" therapy in the past two years.
The scientists plan to start human clinical trials in the coming months. Human trials of the cell delivery system will start next week at the Peter MacCullum Cancer Center at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and The Austin at the University of Melbourne.
The therapy, published in the latest Nature Biotechnology journal, sees mini-cells called EDVs (EnGenelC Delivery Vehicle) attach and enter the cancer cell.
The first wave of mini-cells release ribonucleic acid molecules, called siRNA, which switch off the production of proteins that make the cancer cell resistant to chemotherapy.
A second wave of EDV cells is then accepted by the cancer cell and releases chemotherapy drugs, killing the cancer cell.
"The beauty is that our EDVs operate like 'Trojan Horses' They arrive at the gates of the affected cells and are always allowed in," said MacDiarmid.
"We are playing the rogue cells at their own game. They switch-on the gene to produce the protein to resist drugs, and we are switching-off the gene which, in turn, enables the drugs to enter."