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Certain genetic breakdowns or mutations in the DNA code of some cells lead to cancer in the human body. Some gene mutations are inherited. Others are acquired. Finding a mutation, you can choose the right medicine to destroy the tumour. To find it, it is necessary to conduct an in-depth study of the tumour genome.
What kinds of cancer can be treated by gene therapy?
Rituximab was the first drug implemented in gene therapy, its effectiveness was observed in the treatment of lymphoma and leukemia. Trastuzumab is an antibody that is used in breast cancer treatment. More specifically, it is used when the HER2 gene is detected. This kind of cancer is very aggressive and is peculiar with an unfavourable prognosis. Nonetheless, Trastuzumab helps to lengthen the life expectancy of patients suffering from this cancer.
Small-molecule drugs are another stage of gene therapy evolution. Therefore, it is becoming possible to effectively treat:
Over the past few years, studies have been conducted to determine the genetic profile of malformations. A genetic profile identifies specific gene mutations. Specific drugs are created in response to these mutations, which increases the life expectancy of patients for many years.
The following diseases are treated this way:
- Prostate cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Brain cancer
- Lung cancer
- Mammary gland cancer
- Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
- Bladder cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Malignant mesothelioma
- Thyroid gland cancer
- Acute leukemia
- Oesophageal carcinoma
- Pancreatic cancer
- Bone cancer
New methods of gene therapy are being developed to hopefully cure many other malignant tumours. However, they are not yet implemented in medical practice and are still considered to be at a trial stage.
Gene therapy principle
When a changed or absent gene is detected the following treatment guidelines are applied:
- Replacement of the damaged DNA
- Block the mutated gene and stop the cell division
- Stimulation of the immune system, which effectively destroys atypical cells that have a specific gene mutation
- Insertion into the cells of “suicide genes” that cause cancer cells to self-destruct
- Introduction of “labelling genes” making cancer more susceptible to chemotherapy
Currently, the latest gene therapy involves the use of vectors to deliver new genetic material into the cells. Vectors can be viral and non-viral. Viral vectors presuppose the administration of viruses into the organism. Viruses build into the tumour cells and change its genetic material. Such vectors are used in the majority of cases.
Non-viral vectors are:
- DNA transfection means that genetic material is absorbed by cells and penetrates into the nucleus, where it is later subjected to transcription and translation.
- Gold-coated micro-particles coated with DNA increase the efficiency of the transfection.
- Liposomes means that DNA is placed into the organelle for its delivery to tissues. This way, you can enter large fragments of genetic code.
- DNA complexes with polymers means DNA is combined with some molecules, and then injected into the body. Polymers are destroyed in the blood and the DNA penetrates into the cells. The possibility of using this vector for brain cancer treatment is being explored.
Most non-viral vectors are used only as models of cell cultures or in laboratory animals, and are not yet used in clinical practice.
Promising gene technology CRISPR / Cas9 has been used in the USA since 2016. Special enzymes are introduced into the body. The damaged DNA fragments are "cut out", determining them by the genetic code.
Where is gene therapy applied?
Gene therapy is applied in some medically advanced countries. It has attracted many people who are determined to get results, when the current treatment doesn't help. Some famous people who have had success with gene therapy include Jimmy Carter, the former US president. He has successfully cured cancer with gene therapy in Multicare Hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington.
In Israel, Sheba Medical Center offers treatment of acute lymphoblastic and myeloblastic leukemia, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, using CAR T-cell therapy.
University hospitals in Germany, in particular the University Hospital Ulm, University Hospital Freiburg and University Hospital Frankfurt am Main also offer CAR T-cell therapy for adults and children with malignant blood diseases.
How to undergo gene therapy abroad?
Gene therapy is one of the most promising areas of oncology. Researchers believe that with its help it will be possible to control even the most aggressive forms of oncologic diseases at the advanced stages. The diagnosis of cancer will no longer be a death sentence. It will become just one of many chronic diseases – dangerous, sometimes incurable, but not fatal.
Patients from countries where gene therapy is currently not available can receive treatment abroad with the help of the international medical tourism operator Booking Health. The Booking Health team offers:
- Selection of a foreign clinic based on its annual qualification profile
- Preliminary preparation of the treatment program, so you will be able to understand its cost and duration
- Reducing the cost of medical services by excluding the additional coefficients for foreign patients (saving up to 50%)
- Making an appointment on the desired date, without long waiting
- Independent control of the medical program by Booking Health experts
- Assistance in purchasing medical products
- Communication with the clinic after treatment completion, control of bills and return of unspent funds
- Organization of additional examinations, repeated treatment, rehabilitation
- Booking accommodation, plane tickets, transfers
- Medical interpreter services
Contact Booking Health via the phone number on the company's website or the "Send request" form, and your treatment abroad will be easy and comfortable.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova