Cancer gene therapy
Nemunaitis, John Department of Oncology, Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers, Dallas, Texas.
Last reviewed:July 2018
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- Signal targeting
- Gene therapeutics
- RNA interference
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An experimental technique in which a normal gene is inserted into an organism to correct a genetic defect responsible for cancer development. Cancer is a serious medical condition that develops when the orderly relationship of cell division and cell differentiation becomes disordered, leading to the development of neoplasms (tumors) [Fig. 1]. Advances in knowledge of the molecular basis for cancer have led to the understanding that cancer is a multistep process involving a variety of gene alterations. Therefore, cancer gene therapy has been developed in order to introduce functional copies of a curative gene or genes into a cancer patient and thus achieve a therapeutic objective. In other words, cancer gene therapy involves the introduction of genes to either reverse or counteract the molecular defects or alterations associated with cancer cells. The advantage of cancer gene therapy is that it can be directed to tumor cells with greater specificity than conventional chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Hence, it is less likely to affect normal cells or to cause undesired systemic effects. See also: Cancer; Cancer cell metabolism; Cancer stem cells; Cell differentiation; Cell division; Chemotherapy and other antineoplastic drug treatments; Gene; Genetic engineering; Genetics; Oncology; Radiation therapy; Tumor
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