Researchers at Stanford University have developed a method for introducing the bcl-2 gene into patients via gene therapy to prevent apoptosis, or programmed cell death. This type of therapy may be useful in treating cystic fibrosis and reducing the side effects of radiation or chemotherapy.
In cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, this method could be used to prevent neutrophils from dying and releasing their genetic materials into the mucous of the lungs. Less DNA in the lung mucous reduces viscosity and the opportunity for infection.
Radiation treatment and chemotherapy usually lead to a compromised immune system due to the death of hematopoietic stem cells, leading to neutropenia. The introduction of bcl-2 in these stem cells prevents cell death and helps maintain these cells at a healthy level, allowing patients to continue necessary treatments.
bcl-2 gene therapy can be reversed at the conclusion of treatment.Stage of Research
This method has been used successfully to protect transgenic mice from the effects of radiation.