Treatment of cancers in the lung remains a critical challenge in the clinic for which gene therapy could offer valuable options. We describe an effective approach through systemic injection of engineered polymer/DNA nanoparticles that mediate tumor-specific expression of a therapeutic gene, under the control of the cancer-selective progression elevated gene 3 (PEG-3) promoter, to treat tumors in the lungs of diseased mice. A clinically tested, untargeted, polyethylenimine carrier was selected to aid rapid transition to clinical studies, and a CpG-free plasmid backbone and coding sequences were used to reduce inflammation. Intravenous administration of nanoparticles expressing murine single-chain interleukin 12, under the control of PEG-3 promoter, significantly improved the survival of mice in both an orthotopic and a metastatic model of lung cancer with no marked symptoms of systemic toxicity. These outcomes achieved using clinically relevant nanoparticle components raises the promise of translation to human therapy.
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