Background: Molecular or gene therapy involves the introduction of genetic material (DNA) into host cells to induce the expression of the therapeutic product of that gene. This ability to transfer genetic material provides a novel approach for the investigation and potential treatment of a variety of both inherited and acquired diseases.
Methods: This review summarizes the principles of molecular therapy and potential strategies for its use in the treatment of solid malignancies. Some molecular therapy strategies permanently integrate the gene into the targeted cells, whereas others induce only transient expression of a therapeutic gene product. Initial clinical studies in gene therapy are being closely regulated for public safety by both the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Conclusions: These studies will provide insight into further applications of gene therapy and novel molecular interventions that may alter our management of solid malignancies; they may also reveal mechanisms for preventing or reversing the carcinogenic process.