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The research laboratory of John C. Morris III, M.D., studies the potential utility of the thyroidal iodide transporter — the sodium/iodide symporter (NIS) — as a therapeutic gene for gene therapy. Prostate cancer is used as a model.
NIS-mediated gene therapy using radioiodine. Dr. Morris and his colleagues have induced prostate cancer cells to express NIS using an expression vector in which the NIS cDNA is coupled to the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) promoter. This vector allows prostate-specific and androgen-sensitive NIS expression as measured by iodide trapping and Western blotting.
Dr. Morris has demonstrated this activity both in vitro and in vivo, and he's also shown that NIS expression can be induced by adenoviral-mediated gene transfer into prostate cancer xenografts. This uptake is sufficiently high that the tumors can be effectively treated with radioactive iodine, achieving as high as 80 percent complete responses.
Dr. Morris and his colleagues are currently conducting a phase I clinical trial of this therapy in men who have recurrent prostate cancer confined to the prostate bed. In addition, they are generating replication-competent virus vectors that express NIS to target metastatic and androgen-resistant prostate cancer.
The goal of Dr. Morris' work is to develop and apply a novel gene therapy approach to metastatic, hormone-resistant prostate cancer using radioactive as the therapeutic moiety.
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