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New Gene Therapy Gets Under the Skin

Posted: June 26, 2009

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And it worked. Phloretin penetrated the skin, the gel capsules and the cells contained within. As hoped for by the researchers, the antioxidant from the apples reduced the production of protein. With a large dose of phloretin in the cream, the production of SEAP could be stopped altogether.

“When developing the principle we had no particular clinical picture in mind”, emphasised the ETH professor. “We were concentrating on the route of administration through the skin”. A genetic network such as this can also be designed in such a way that when activated correctly, insulin or growth factors are produced. The researcher can imagine that certain metabolic diseases might be treatable by this method. The D-BSSE scientists have already had the method patented and hope that the pharmaceutical industry will be interested in further developing this principle.

Liver spared

This form of gene therapy has several advantages, stressed the ETH professor. It puts no strain on the liver because it has a very local action, and phloretin is a molecule that can be found in everyday foodstuffs and undergoes rapid degradation in the body. Furthermore, the network can be precisely controlled, and the therapy is well tolerated by the liver, adds Fussenegger. The disadvantage of orally administered therapeutic agents is that the liver, as the detoxifying organ, destroys most of the active agent before it reaches the target site.

Fussenegger is also convinced that implants are well accepted by the public. Implants can be stored in the body for a relatively long time and are easily removed after the end of therapy or in the event of complications.