This week, scientists speaking at the Experimental Biology 2009 meeting in New Orleans presented research involving using nanoparticles of fat to perform gene therapy on tumor cells. In the approach, patients would be intravenously injected with lipid nanoparticles coated with a protein that preferentially binds to tumor cells. The nanoparticles deliver a genetic payload -- many functional copies of the p53 tumor suppressor gene that is often defective in cancerous tumor cells.
The researchers hope that delivering functioning p53 genes to cancers will help shrink the tumors, making them more vulnerable to conventional cancer therapy. The approach is now undergoing Phase I clinical trials to determine whether the method is safe. We'll talk with Esther Chang, one of the leaders of the research.
Produced by Charles Bergquist, Director and Contributing Producer