Successful use of a plant gene in the treatment of cancer in vivo

Gene Ther. 1998 Nov;5(11):1499-507. doi: 10.1038/


A new strategy for cancer gene therapy has been developed using a plant gene which encodes the enzyme, linamarase, that hydrolyzes the cyanogenic glucoside substrate, linamarin, into glucose, acetone and cyanide. Retroviral vectors that carry linamarase as a potential killer-suicide gene cause a marked sensitization to the innocuous substrate, linamarin, followed by cell death. We show that the system can eradicate very large intracerebral gliomas in vivo helped by a cyanide bystander effect. Animals showing a total regression of the tumor by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), do not show other appreciable toxic effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Glioblastoma / diagnosis
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mice
  • Moloney murine leukemia virus
  • Nitriles / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Sodium Cyanide / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • beta-Glucosidase / genetics*


  • Nitriles
  • cyanogenic beta-glucosidase
  • beta-Glucosidase
  • linamarin
  • Sodium Cyanide