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Two studies show promise for lung cancer treatments

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By Sheilah Downey

  Two studies released today (June 15) involving gene therapy treatments, one involving an inhalable spray, may help in treating lung cancer patients, according to Healthday News.

  Scientists at Seoul National University in Korea said mice treated with an inhalable spray twice a week for four weeks had fewer and smaller tumors than untreated mice. The mice were treated with a vaporized viral vector which targets genes to the lungs in a non-invasive way, said researchers.

  "Aerosol delivery targets the lungs specifically and represents a non-invasive alternative for targeting genes to the lungs," wrote study author Myung-Haing Cho, according to Healthday.

  Researchers stated that the spray helped suppress production of several proteins that contribute to cancer cell growth. The treated mice also showed increased apoptosis, or programmed cell death, which is necessary for healthy tissues.

  Traditional treatment for lung cancer involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy which slow progression of the disease but only temporarily. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in the world.

  The study appears in the June 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

  A second study which targeted nicotine receptors in the brain doubled the survival time of mice with lung cancer.

  Researchers at the National Cancer Research Institute in Genoa, Italy found that treating mice with compound a-CbT helped slow the expression of nicotine receptors and increased healthy cell growth.

  Nicotine cuts with a double-edged sword in causing lung cancer. It changes genes in the brain to drive the urge to smoke as well as increases susceptibility to lung cancer, according to Healthday News.

  Scientists noted that non-cancerous cells did not appear to be affected by the use of the compound which suggest it has a limited toxicity.

  Mice treated with compound a-CbT in the study had a 2.1 increased survival time over untreated mice and a 1.7 increase of survival over mice treated with the standard chemotherapy agent.

  The study is published in the June 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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