Spinal cord tumors (SCT) are uncommon neoplasms characterized by irregular growth of tissue inside the spinal cord that can result in non-mechanical back pain. Current treatments for SCT include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, but these conventional therapies have many limitations. Suicide gene therapy using plasmid encoding herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase (pHSV-TK) and ganciclovir (GCV) has been an alternative approach to overcome the limitations of current therapies. However, there is a need to develop a carrier that can deliver both pHSV-TK and GCV for improving therapeutic efficacy. Our group developed a cationic, amphiphilic copolymer, poly (lactide-co-glycolide) -graft-polyethylenimine (PgP), and demonstrated its efficacy as a drug and gene carrier in both cell culture studies and animal models. In this study, we evaluated PgP as a gene carrier and demonstrate that PgP can efficiently deliver reporter genes, pGFP in rat glioma (C6) cells in vitro, and pβ-gal in a rat T5 SCT model in vivo. We also show that PgP/pHSV-TK with GCV treatment showed significantly higher anticancer activity in C6 cells compared to PgP/pHSV-TK without GCV treatment. Finally, we demonstrate that PgP/pHSV-TK with GCV treatment increases the suicide effect and apoptosis of tumor cells and reduces tumor size in a rat T5 SCT model.
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