Experts on the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee have given the go ahead for a large clinical trial of a new treatment for patients with Glioma - one of the most aggressive types of brain tumours for which there is currently no cure.
The new gene therapy treatment involves injecting Herpes simplex virus into the brain tumours of Glioma patients. The virus is modified so that it targets and kills cancerous cells but leaves normal brain cells undamaged.
Gene therapy is a relatively new form of experimental treatment, and so must be tightly regulated to make sure research meets the highest standards, is ethically and scientifically sound and that patient welfare is paramount. Researchers in Glasgow needed the approval of the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee, the national research ethics committee for gene therapy, before they could set up this large-scale clinical trial of the new treatment.
Initial results of the treatment from earlier trials are promising. The first patient to receive the treatment seven years ago is alive today despite initially being told he had just four months to live.
Professor Norman Nevin, Chair of the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee said:
"Gene therapy offers enormous potential to patients with conditions such as cancer and the U.K has been at the forefront of research in this area.
This new treatment could offer hope to patients with malignant Gliomas. After carefully considering the risks and benefits to patients, the Committee has decided to give the go ahead to further trials so that we can demonstrate the effectiveness of this new therapy".