A biochemist's unintended wander into gene therapy may have achieved one of gene therapy's long-sought goals: a way to deliver cytocidal genes to metastatic cancer cells dispersed throughout the body while leaving normal cells unharmed. Fred Hall of the department of surgery at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has developed an ingenious seek-and-destroy cancer vector. What makes Hall's attempt at tumor-targeted gene delivery out of the ordinary is that his vector doesn't home straight in on cancer cells. Hall fashioned a vector aimed at the exposed collagen within a lesion that is created by a growing tumor. The theory is that by binding the vector to the tumor's exposed collagen, the cancer cells in proximity will be more effectively transduced. This method works very well against metastatic cancers in mice. And with a go-ahead from regulatory authorities, the first test on these vectors in humans is coming...

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