Scientists can weaken lung cancer

By: Nicky Park
12 May, 2011

Australian scientists have worked out a way of weakening lung cancer, the most deadly form of the disease in the country.

Researchers at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre have found people with lung cancer are loaded with high levels of a protein that is resistant to chemotherapy.

More than 9000 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and the disease's resistance makes it tricky to treat.

But researchers at the University of NSW centre have developed a gene silencing technique that can switch off the resilient protein cells, making the cancer more sensitive to chemotherapy.

The next step is finding a way to deliver this treatment to the tumour without the body rejecting it, said Professor Maria Kavallaris.

"If you just put it into an animal it would just get excreted straight away," said Prof Kavallaris.

"If you imagine a truck carrying its cargo, we're trying to deliver this... genetic material to switch off the gene that's causing the problem to the tumour cell.

"That way, when we give chemotherapy, those cells will then be more sensitive to chemotherapy than they were when that protein was there."

She said chemists were currently in the process of designing "these little cargo carrying devices", using nanotechnology to deliver the gene silencing therapy to where it was needed.

Prof Kavallaris hopes to begin human trials late next year and said the implications of her research could go much further than lung cancer.

Source: AAP NewsWire