Conducted by researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine, the study shows that combining a dietary agent with a gene-delivered cytokine effectively eliminates human pancreatic cancer cells in mice.
Reporting their study in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the researchers described cytokines as a category of proteins that are secreted into the circulation, and can affect cancer cells at distant sites in the body.
They also revealed that the cytokine used in this study was melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24, known as mda-7/IL-24.
The dietary agent perillyl alcohol (POH), found in a variety of plants, was combined with mda-7/IL-24, which is already used in other cancer treatments.
The study demonstrated that the CGT approach not only prevented pancreatic cancer growth and progression, but it also effectively killed established tumours, thereby displaying profound chemopreventive and therapeutic activity.
Dr. Paul B. Fisher, principal investigator of the study, said: "Our hypothesis was that certain non-toxic dietary agents that had the ability to promote reactive oxygen species (ROS) would break down pancreatic cancer cell resistance to therapy following administration of mda-7/IL-24 and be safe for human use."
He added: "We are very excited at the prospect of this chemoprevention gene therapy as a means of both preventing and treating pancreatic cancer, and it has significant potential to move rapidly into human clinical trials."