Science Times: Targeted Treatment of Experimental Spinal Cord Glioma With Dual Gene-Engineered Human Neural Stem Cells

Despite their increasing clinical incidence, intramedullary spinal cord gliomas remain without an effective treatment strategy. Given their diffusely invasive nature, surgical resection is perilous, and both chemotherapeutic and radiation options demonstrate poor response.1 Over the past decade, researchers have found that neural stem cells (NSCs) migrate toward inflammatory sites, including tumors. This insight has inspired research into genetic engineering of human NSCs to express enzymes such as cytosine deaminase (CD) and thymidine kinase (TK). These enzymes enable these cells to convert the nontoxic prodrugs 5-fluorocytosine (5FC) and ganciclovir (GCV) into oncolytic 5-fluorouracil and GCV-triphosphate, respectively.2 Both of these agents inhibit tumor growth by impeding DNA elongation, thus triggering apoptosis. Ropper et al3 hypothesized that these dual gene-engineered human NSCs could be used to effectively treat intramedullary spinal cord gliomas by using their glioma trackability to deliver targeted chemotherapeutic agents.

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