Gene Therapy for Cancer Treatment
There are three main options that have long been the traditional methods used to treat cancer. Patients can have surgery to remove the tumors, and then undergo chemotherapy and radiation to kill any other cancerous cells. However, not all types of cancer respond the same way to these treatments, and sometimes the chemotherapy and radiation can actually leave you weaker than before. Thus, some people are turning to experimental cancer treatments like gene therapy.
What is Gene Therapy?
First, to understand gene therapy, it is important to know what causes cancer. Cell instructions are carried in packets of information called genes, which have strands of acids called DNA. DNA contains certain sequences that the cells interpret for directions. Additionally, DNA also has instructions telling the cells when to divide and grow. If these instructions mutate, or get altered, your cells can grow uncontrollably, which constitutes cancer.
With gene therapy, doctors and scientists introduce more genetic information into your cells that encodes instructions for fighting the cancer. This can be DNA or its other form, RNA. Gene therapy can help your cells get back on track, ignoring the mutated cellular instructions.
How Gene Therapy Fights Cancer
There are several ways that doctors and scientists use gene therapy to help patients fight cancer, including:
- Replacing faulty or missing information with healthy genes
- Inserting genetic information into immune system cells to target tumorous cells
- Using gene therapy in cancerous cells to make them more susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation
- Injecting “suicide cells” into cancerous cells to make them self-destruct
- Inputting genes into cancer cells to prevent them from forming the new blood vessels that supply tumors
Although gene therapy is currently available only through clinical trials, it has the potential to radically change the way doctors treat cancer.
Sadly, some cancers, such as mesothelioma, are not as responsive to traditional cancer treatment. Thus, participating in clinical trials could be a way to fight back against mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with this deadly disease, you should have all the information necessary to make a fully informed decision about your treatment. To learn more, please fill out the contact form at the top of the page as soon as possible.