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Virus-Based Gene Therapy, Radiation Cause Prostate Cancer To Commit 'Suicide'

Update Date: Dec 14, 2015 02:30 PM EST

Researchers have found a way to get prostate cancer tumors to commit 'suicide', aided by the body's immune system.

According to BBC, researchers at Houston Methodist Hospital genetically modified cancer cells to trigger an immune response that results in destruction of tumors. The technique improved survival by about 20 percent five years after treatment, researchers claimed. The claims were made based on results in two groups of men with aggressive and less severe prostate cancer.

The gene modification is done using viruses. When the cells changed, the viruses in them caused production of chemicals signals, red flags for the immune system. A drug for the virus that enhances the action of the immune system is given along with radiotherapy, UPI reports. The cancer cells self-destruct lending the technique the name 'Suicide Gene Therapy'.

"The combination of immunomodulatory in situ gene therapy and IMRT with or without hormonal therapy is feasible, safe, and effective in the treatment of prostate cancer," researchers wrote in the Journal of Radiation Oncology.

While terming it interesting, cancer experts said that more studies including a randomized trial, is needed to determine the effectiveness of the technique. They said such a trial would help establish that the combination and not radiation alone, was capable of producing the results seen by Methodist researchers.

A randomized trial is currently underway, researcher said.

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