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Brain cancer gene therapy trial gets go ahead

9 August 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 270

A Department of Health advisory body has given permission for a trial of gene therapy to treat brain cancer. The trial, approved by the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC) on 2 August, seeks to build upon the positive results of earlier experiments: the first patient treated with the therapy is still alive seven years on despite being given an estimate of four months to live.

Professor Moira Brown, of the University of Glasgow Hospitals NHS Trust, is leading the trial, which will involve 100 patients with aggressive brain tumours known as gliomas. Researchers will inject a modified herpes virus into the brains of patients. The virus targets cancerous cells, where it delivers DNA engineered to kill the cells. There is currently no other treatment for gliomas.

All human gene therapy trials in the UK must be approved by GTAC, which makes sure the work is both scientifically sound and ethically acceptable. Professor Norman Nevin who is the Chair of GTAC said, 'Gene therapy offers enormous potential to patients with malignant gliomas. After carefully considering the risks and benefits to patients, the committee has decided to give the go ahead to further trials so that we can demonstrate the effectiveness of this new therapy'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Gene therapy trial for cancer patients given go ahead
Medical News Today |  2 August 2004
Gene therapy trial for tumours
BBC News Online |  2 August 2004
Man-made virus targets brain cancer
The Times |  3 August 2004
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