Research ArticleCancer

Genetically modified lentiviruses that preserve microvascular function protect against late radiation damage in normal tissues

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Science Translational Medicine  24 Jan 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 425, eaar2041
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aar2041

Skin protection from radiation goes viral

With recent improvements in cancer therapy, an increasing number of people are living as cancer survivors, in many cases with long-term side effects caused by the cancer treatment. These effects include radiation-induced vascular dysfunction and fibrosis, which interfere with tissue reconstruction using skin flaps after mastectomy in breast cancer patients. Khan et al. developed a virus-based gene therapy approach to address this problem, up-regulating one gene to preserve skin flap volume and knocking down another to reduce radiation-induced skin contracture. The authors tested their approach in rat models of radiation therapy and skin flap reconstruction and also demonstrated that the gene therapy did not interfere with the anticancer effects of radiation.