Pharma Focus Asia

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Centre Developed New Gene Therapy for Liver Cancer

Researchers at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Centre have discovered a promising approach to combating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a prevalent form of liver cancer. 

The study focused on inhibiting a specific protein called galectin 1 (Gal1), which is frequently overproduced in HCC.

Gal1, beyond being a mere biomarker, emerged as a potential therapeutic target due to its role in suppressing the immune system's attack on tumours and promoting cancer growth when overexpressed.

By utilising gene therapy to silence Gal1, the researchers observed a significant reduction in HCC tumours. This inhibition not only shrank the tumours but also bolstered the immune response against cancer cells, increasing the presence of killer T cells within the tumours.

The gene therapy involved packaging small interfering RNA (siRNA) into adeno-associated virus 9, which has an affinity for the liver. This enabled targeted delivery of the therapy to the tumour site, effectively silencing Gal1 in both the cancerous cells and the supportive tissues surrounding the tumour (stroma). Given the resilient nature of HCC tumours, this method's success in reducing their size is particularly noteworthy.

This breakthrough holds promise for HCC treatment and potentially extends to various other cancers, such as breast, colon, and lung cancers, where Gal1 is similarly overexpressed. Moreover, as Gal1 accumulation precedes the development of diseased livers, inhibiting this protein can even be considered for HCC prevention.

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