DATE: September 28, 2017
TIME: 10:00am PDT, 1:00pm EDT
The use of gene therapy is well studied due to its potential to treat cancer, the second leading cause of death worldwide. The goal of gene therapy is to introduce functional genetic material into human cells to be transcribed and translated in order to regulate, repair or suppress a molecular mechanism that contributes to a disease state. Compared to traditional cancer therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, gene therapy is a more personalized and targeted approach because it is based on understanding the genetic profile of a patient’s tumor. Genes being developed for cancer therapy code for a variety of proteins including tumor suppressors, specific antigens, transcription factors, cell cycle regulators, receptors and cytokines. The cytokine Interleukin-24 (IL-24), is of special interest for gene therapy because of its selective killing effect on numerous cancer cell types while having no effect on corresponding normal cells. Due to this property, IL-24 is being investigated in Phase II clinical trials as a gene therapeutic to treat cancer patients. To understand how IL-24 exerts its specific killing effect, our lab studies the signaling pathways that IL-24 activates to induce programmed cell death also known as apoptosis. We use various cancer cell lines to understand which proteins IL-24 modulates to produce its killing effect. Currently, we are exploring how IL-24 blocks protein synthesis in cancer cells to promote cell death. Our aim is to further develop IL-24 as an anti-cancer therapeutic for gene therapy and to reveal targets for combination therapies that will work synergistically with IL-24 to produce a cancer specific killing effect.