Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is the most common form of cancer found in the United States and is usually diagnosed too late to be treated successfully.
In data reported from the American Cancer Society in 2002, 154,900 patients with lung cancer were expected to fall victim to the disease. With research and studies performed by Dr. Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D professor of Biology and Director of Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University, the invasion of lung cancer and other cancers may come to an abrupt end.
Giordano and his associates have successfully identified a gene they’ve named RB2/p130 that helps suppress and retards the growth of tumors.
Giordano discovered the RB2 gene while working at Temple’s Fels Cancer Institute in 1989. The gene was first identified in a rare eye tumor called Retinoblastomo, usually found in children.
Since then the RB2/p130 gene has been replicated and used in studies on mice with tumors. As a result the scientist found by introducing RB2/p130 the tumors regressed in weight by 80 percent or more.
Rb2 is an “important gene that acts as a draw out of cells that may cause cancer and puts them at a resting state,” said Dr Pier Paolo Claudio, Assistant Professor of Biology at the Sbarro Institute and creator of the viral method used to transfer the RB2/p130 gene.
“If the gene is introduced to a cancer cell it will block it by cutting off blood flow into the tumor,” Claudio added.
Through a process called Microarry analysis, Giordano and his team were able to determine which genes would be regulated or affected by RB2/p130. Forty of the 70 genes affected became regulated after the introduction of RB2/p130. Each of the 70 were previously known to aid in the growth of lung cancer.
Any regulation in a gene caused by the introduction of RB2/p130 “is important to us because we can then study why that gene is regulated and use that information to develop molecular therapeutic approaches to lung cancer,” Giordano said. “The gene expression profiles provided by microarray analysis will someday help tailor specific gene therapies to individual patients.”
Because there is no standardized procedure to test for lung cancer, early diagnosis is extremely difficult or impossible. Giordano and his associates wish to eliminate this problem through screenings.
Though the gene reduces growth in many types of cancers, including breast and prostrate, the one most commonly found through screenings were lung cancer, so Giordano and his team focused on this.
“Current treatments of cancer such as chemotherapy and radiation often fail. The transfer of RB2/p130 combined with chemotherapy and radiation or alone may be more effective,” Claudio said. “From bench to bedside we have made quite a few steps, not quite bedside yet. We are currently awaiting FDA approval.”
Each person naturally has the RB2 gene. But exposure to smoke, asbestos, viruses, toxins and other harmful pollutants can cause a person’s RB2 gene to break down. The cloning and transferring of the RB2 gene can eliminate and or reduce the chance of someone dying from cancer.
Another study involving the RB2/p130 gene shows that it can aid in the correction of cardiovascular disease. A third of cardiovascular patients after surgery are re-clogged in as a little as three months. The study showed with the introduction of the RB2 gene after Angioplasty the heart did not become re-clogged.
Giordano and his team continue to work diligently on each study “learning better how proteins talk to each other,” and “how they build the sentences of life, making life possible,” Claudio said.
Giordano has published more than 200 articles and has performed pioneering work in the fields of cell cycle, gene therapy and the genetics of cancer.
Claudio gave up being a surgeon believing “in surgery he could help save one life at a time, but with this approach he could possibly help in preventing diseases” altogether.
Raynetta Smalls can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.