"Cancer kills more people in the UK than any other disease: one cancer sufferer dies every 15 minutes, which adds up to over 35 000 people a year.
The possibility of using genes as medicines to treat cancer is currently limited by the lack of safe and efficacious delivery systems able to deliver therapeutic genes selectively to tumours by intravenous administration, without secondary effects to healthy tissues.
On the basis that iron is essential for tumour cell growth and can be effectively carried to tumours by using specific iron-carrier receptors present in abundance on the surface of cancer cells, we demonstrated that the use of iron-carriers linked to a highly promising gene delivery system resulted in gene expression mainly in the tumours after intravenous administration. This led to a rapid and sustained tumour regression over one month, with disappearance of 90% of the tested tumours and regression of the remaining ones in a laboratory model.
Building on the promising results already obtained, the proposed project aims to develop new systems by modifying the iron-carrier, and to evaluate their anti-cancer efficacy on cancer cells in vitro and in vivo after intravenous administration.
This innovative research would potentially have a major impact on healthcare, as there is currently no gene medicine commercially available for the intravenous treatment of cancer."