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Scientists create 'supermouse' resistant to all forms of cancer


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Scientists create mouse gene able to target and kill cancer


Last updated at 15:07pm on 27th November 2007 commentIconSm.gif Comments

mouseAL0111_228x278.jpgScientists hope the gene will one day provide a cancer treatment without painful side effects




Scientists have created a mouse they say is resistant to all types of cancer.

The researchers discovered a cancer killing gene which, when genetically engineered into mice, caused their bodies to attack and kill cancer cells and leave healthy tissue unharmed.

The researchers, from the University of Kentucky, say the gene, called par-4, could lead to new cancer treatments.

It has so far been able to fight even the most aggressive cancers in mice, without side effects.

"The interesting part of this study is that this killer gene is selective for killing cancer cells," said Professor Vivek Rangnekar, who led the research. "It will not kill normal cells."

Although the research is at a very early stage, the team hope to develop a method to introduce the par-4 gene into humans through bone marrow transplants. It could potentially be used to fight cancer cells in patients without the toxic and damaging side effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

"When a cancer patient goes to the clinic, they undergo chemotherapy or radiation and there are potential side effects associated with these treatments," Professor Rangnekar said.

"We are thinking of this in a holistic approach that not only would get rid of the tumour, but also not harm the organism as a whole."

Professor Rangnekar and his team have found a way for mice to pass the gene on to offspring. They introduced it into the egg of a mouse, which was then implanted in a surrogate mother.

He said: "The mouse itself does not express a large number of copies of this gene, but the pups do and then their pups start expressing the gene."

Professor Rangnekar said the study, published in the journal Cancer Research, was inspired by a member of his family's experience of cancer.

"If you look at the pain that cancer patients go through, not just from the disease, but also from the treatment, it's excruciating ... If you can not only treat the cancer, but also not harm the patient, that's a major breakthrough."

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