Canji Inc. is developing gene therapy that utilizes anadenovirus vector to carry either the p53 tumor suppressergene or the retinoblastoma (Rb) tumor suppresser gene intotumor cells.

Preclinical data with the technique were presented Friday atthe International Conference on Gene Therapy of Cancer in SanDiego.

Canji scientist Kenneth Wills reported that when the gene-carrying adenovirus vector is inserted into the tumor cell lines,the cells can express p53 or Rb, suppress DNA replication,affect cell growth and induce apoptosis in some cases.

Genetic Therapy Inc. has a clinical trial under way usingretroviral vectors to deliver the p53 gene. Wills told BioWorldthat the adenovirus vector allows the infection of more tumorcells than is possible with a retroviral vector. He said Canji isone of a few companies to work with an adenovirus vector.

Privately held Canji is also studying the direct delivery of theretinoblastoma protein to tumor cells. The protein is deliveredin a buffer solution without the use of a vector. Research withthe Rb protein is further ahead than that with the p53 genetherapy. The primary indication for the Rb protein will be lungcancer.

Founded in 1990, the San Diego company is currently testingp53 and Rb gene transfer in animal models and hopes to file aninvestigational new drug application in 1994. The primaryindication for p53 gene therapy will be colorectal cancer andhepatocellular carcinoma.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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