<figcaption>Plasmid GHRH delivery in a dog. Credit: Courtesy of Patricia Brown</figcaption>
Plasmid GHRH delivery in a dog. Credit: Courtesy of Patricia Brown

A few months after arriving at Baylor College of Medicine in 1995, Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, an assistant professor, adopted an abandoned Jack Russell terrier she found at the cafeteria. Baylor, named for the school, is one of two dogs that Draghia-Akli has lost to cancer in the past six years, and watching his decline was taxing. ?He couldn?t breathe anymore, he had many metastases, and it was truly horrible to see him suffering,? she says.

Draghia-Akli put Baylor to sleep in 2002, just as her colleagues were beginning to test a gene therapy approach aimed at reducing cachexia, a complication of cancer in which a catabolic state produces anemia, muscle wasting, and fatigue, which makes facing aggressive cancer therapies difficult.

About 10 years ago, she and her colleagues began developing growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH)-encoding plasmids for use in gene...

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