A new, exciting avenue of current research into
cancer treatment is built upon the observation that abnormalities
in certain genes, (chemical structures in the cell nucleus determining
patterns of growth and function) are fundamentally related to
the cancer process, and to resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy.
One of these genes, p53, is known to be abnormal in the malignant
cells of many patients with mesothelioma. In order to repair this
defect, a non-replicating, noninfectious "designer"
virus has been specially grown in the laboratory which is intended
to enter the malignant cells, and reintroduce normal p53 genetic
material. Cells carrying this normal p53 gene, although still
malignant, can become more susceptible to conventional chemotherapy
drugs. In a study being conducted at our Cancer Center, this noninfectious
virus is injected directly into the abdominal or chest cavity
of patients with mesothelioma who are then given chemotherapy.