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Cancer poses a tremendous therapeutic challenge worldwide, highlighting the critical need for developing novel therapeutics. A promising cancer treatment modality is gene therapy, which is a form of molecular medicine designed to introduce into target cells genetic material with therapeutic intent. Anticancer gene therapy strategies currently used in preclinical models, and in some cases in the clinic, include proapoptotic genes, oncolytic/replicative vectors, conditional cytotoxic approaches, inhibition of angiogenesis, inhibition of growth factor signaling, inactivation of oncogenes, inhibition of tumor invasion and stimulation of the immune system. The translation of these novel therapeutic modalities from the preclinical setting to the clinic has been driven by encouraging preclinical efficacy data and advances in gene delivery technologies. One area of intense research involves the ability to accurately regulate the levels of therapeutic gene expression to achieve enhanced efficacy and provide the capability to switch gene expression off completely if adverse side effects should arise. This feature could also be implemented to switch gene expression off when a successful therapeutic outcome ensues. Here, we will review recent developments related to the engineering of transcriptional switches within gene delivery systems, which could be implemented in clinical gene therapy applications directed at the treatment of cancer.
Curtin JF, Candolfi M, Xiong W, Lowenstein PR, Castro MG. (2008) Turning the gene tap off; implications of regulating gene expression for cancer therapeutics. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2008 Mar;7(3):439-48. doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-2328