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Synthetic anticancer gene medicine exploits intrinsic antitumor activity of cationic vector to cure established tumors

Dufès, Christine and Keith, W. Nicol and Bilsland, Alan and Proutski, Irina and Uchegbu, Ijeoma F. and Schätzlein, Andreas G. (2005) Synthetic anticancer gene medicine exploits intrinsic antitumor activity of cationic vector to cure established tumors. Cancer Research, 65 (18). pp. 8079-84. ISSN 0008-5472

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Abstract

The systemic delivery of genetic therapies required for the treatment of inaccessible tumors and metastases remains a challenge despite the development of various viral and synthetic vector systems. Here we show that a synthetic vector system based on polypropylenimine dendrimers has the desired properties of a systemic delivery vehicle and mediates efficient transgene expression in tumors after i.v. administration. The systemic tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) gene therapy was efficacious in the experimental treatment of established A431 epidermoid carcinoma, C33a cervix carcinoma, and LS174T colorectal adenocarcinoma. Specifically, the systemic injection of dendrimer nanoparticles containing a TNFalpha expression plasmid regulated by telomerase gene promoters (hTR and hTERT) leads to transgene expression, regression of remote xenograft murine tumors, and long-term survival of up to 100% of the animals. Interestingly, these dendrimers and, to a lesser extent, other common polymeric transfection agents also exhibit plasmid-independent antitumor activity, ranging from pronounced growth retardation to complete tumor regression. The genetic therapy as well as treatment with dendrimer alone was well tolerated with no apparent signs of toxicity in the animals. The combination of intrinsic dendrimer activity and transcriptionally targeted TNFalpha when complexed was significantly more potent than either treatment alone or when both were administered in sequence. The combination of pharmacologically active synthetic transfection agent and transcriptionally targeted antitumor gene creates an efficacious gene medicine for the systemic treatment of experimental solid tumors.