Novel Anti-Cancer Therapeutic Strategy to Overcome Cancer Resistance and to Enable Tailoring Treatment

Case ID:

This technology is a gene therapy construct based on modified programmed-cell-death genes involved in intracellular apoptosis.  Bypassing the main treatment-resistant mechanisms of cancer offers a new direction, away from broad-spectrum treatments, towards individualized therapies for cancer treatment that carry fewer side-effects.

Background & Unmet Need:

Malignant melanoma is the most aggressive form of cancer.  A diagnosis of metastatic melanoma carries with it a median survival of 6-9 months.  Current methods of treatment include surgical resection, radiation, chemotherapy with dacarbazine, tamoxifen, or temozolamide, or immunotherapeutics such as IL-2, IFN-cc.  Few patients respond to these methods of treatment due to a general lack of efficacy and a high rate of severe side effects experienced by those patients using non-surgical treatments.  The trend of therapeutics is going away from broad-spectrum cytotoxic chemotherapy and towards specific molecularly targeted therapies.


Technology Description:

This technology is a gene therapy construct comprising of a modified deoxyribonuclease-1 (Dnase-1) gene, a program-cell-death gene.  Dnase-1 is a powerful DNA digestive protein and a major executioner of intracellular apoptosis.  The therapy contains a target sequence directing Dnase-1 to the specific cancer cell, allowing access to the nucleus where it then directs the degradation of DNA and subsequently causes cell death.  The construct is engineered to survive attacks by the cell’s defense mechanisms, thus allowing it to continue to destroy the malignant cell.  The gene can be personalized for the type of cancer and made to be as efficacious as possible with regards to the patient’s own response to treatment.  Because it does not require the participation of the immune system, this technology is particularly advantageous for treatment in patients with immuno-compromised systems.


Commercial Applications:

  • Targeted anti-cancer therapy
  • Customized anti-cancer therapy
  • Treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases
  • Treatment of infectious diseases


Stage of Development

Pre-clinical, studies done in human melanoma cell lines            


 Competitive Advantages:

  • Personalized anti-cancer treatment
  • Bypasses negative and positive inhibitory feedbacks of apoptosis cell death cascade of events
  • Increases number of patients responding positively to anti-cancer treatment by bypassing treatment-resistance mechanisms
  • Treats patients with immunocompromised systems because it does not require immune system participation
  • Fewer side effects due to no significant damage to neighboring healthy cells
  • Can be applied to a spectrum of cancers, chronic autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases


 Intellectual Property Status:

Patent application filed


Related publications or citations of work:

Rosner K, Kasprzak MF, Horenstein AC, Thurston HL, Abrams J, Kerwin LY, Mehregan DA, Mehregan DR. Cancer Gene Ther. 2011 May;18(5):346-57.


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Joan Dunbar
Associate Vice President for Technology Commercialization
Wayne State University
(313) 577-5542
Karli Rosner