Gene therapy for chemo resistance

GENE-silencing, a fresh approach to tackling drug resistance, will be pioneered in Australian trials involving patients with lung cancer, a conference has heard.

Scientists at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia investigating ways to treat childhood cancer have switched to developing a new therapy for non-small-cell lung cancer after a chance discovery.

By targeting a structural protein in drug-resistant lung cancer cells, their therapy aims to increase the sensitivity of tumours to standard chemotherapeutic agents, in an approach that could eventually be used for neuroblastoma and for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

The head of tumour biology and targeting at the institute, Professor Maria Kavallaris, said the development means patients will still need chemotherapy but the drug-resistant gene can be silenced to reduce its levels and ensure the tumours are sensitive to chemotherapy.

“We’re really trying to