Gendicine: Gene Therapy for Cancer?

Friday, May 11, 2012 Stef dela Cruz 6 Comments

In the previous article on Gendicine gene therapy, the origin of Gendicine as commercially-available gene therapy for cancer was discussed. Its part-virus, part-gene nature was also explained. And below, the most intriguing facts on Gendicine are summarized.


Here are some of the things you might want to know about Gendicine (p53 gene therapy) and its role in cancer treatment. Read on to find out what types of cancer it can treat.

  • Gendicine treats cancer by providing a normal p53 gene for the body. An article on genetic therapy for head and neck cancer explains how gene therapy restores the p53 gene. The body is given the renewed capacity to initiate the death of cancer cells. “With Gendicine, abnormal cells either die or revert back to their normal form,” Dr. Dy explained.
  • Gendicine, or p53 gene therapy, can actually work even when a person does not have an obvious p53 abnormality. After all, most – if not all – cancers are associated with a p53 abnormality. In a p53 gene article published last year at Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, about 50 percent of all reported cases of cancer have P53 gene mutations, while the other 50 percent show a partly-inactivated p53 pathway. Therefore, it is no longer required to identify a p53 mutation or defect before Gendicine gene therapy is started.
  • Gendicine is especially used for head and neck tumors. Head and neck tumors can be quite disfiguring. “Imagine a malignant tumor on your cheek, lips, or nose. The treatment may require surgical removal not only of the tumor, but of surrounding tissues to ensure a cancer-free margin. However, this may result in the disfigurement of the face,” Dr. Dy explained. In such a case, Gendicine may help spare a person from disfiguring surgery. Read on and find out how Gendicine improves a cancer patient’s quality of life.
  • Gendicine helps improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Yes, you may no longer have cancer after surgical excision of a big tumor on your face or neck, but you might not be able to function normally because of the disfiguring surgery. A person with a huge chunk of his lip, nose, or face surgically removed may not be able to eat, swallow, chew, or breathe normally. With Gendicine, this is avoided as tumors are known to shrink or at least halt in growth.
  • Gendicine is a preparation of p53 genes carried by adenoviruses. Since the adenovirus can cause many illnesses, the adenovirus is first modified, with its capacity to replicate disabled, before the p53 gene is attached to it.
  • In China, Gendicine use has resulted in a dramatic change in many tumors. The Food and Drug Authority in China has approved Gendicine for use in head and neck tumors, and also for leukoplakia and brain tumors.
  • The most common side effects of Gendicine gene therapy include fever, loss of appetite, and body aches. According to the Phase I study of a Gendicine trial, these side effects are actually symptoms of a self-limiting adenovirus infection. Remember that the adenovirus carries the p53 gene. Also, recall that the adenovirus is no longer capable of reproducing, so the infection should resolve soon.
  • Unlike chemotherapy, cancer gene therapy with Gendicine does not result in alopecia, vomiting, or bone marrow suppression. Bone marrow suppression can result in bleeding or severe infection, leading to complications and death. But Gendicine is not a chemotherapeutic agent, so it does not cause bone marrow suppression.

Chit Fang Cheok, et al, “Translating p53 Into the Clinic
”, Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology
Huang, P., et al, “Targeted genetic and viral therapy for advanced head and neck cancers”, Drug Discovery Today.
Zhang, S., et al, “Phase I study of repeated intraepithelial delivery of adenoviral p53 in patients with dysplastic oral leukoplakia
”, Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

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Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. Dear Stef,
    I really hope the gendicine will work as mentioned above, my dad is having metastatic head and neck cancer. It is a desperating experience. He had tried NGPDT, many type of chemos plus erbitux and radiation, looks good at the beginning but it is ending with no result and the body become resistant. As he is getting weaker and we just found out about gendicine so we moved the treatment. Within weeks my dad has many shots, he can walk slowly again but this due to detox and less chemo effects. He havent had test for the gendicine treatment yet but the tumor looks bigger than last week, doctor said it is due to inflammation of the gendicine injections to it. I really hope gendicine will be the answer.


  2. Fenty, I am crossing my fingers for you. I sincerely hope Gendicine works for you dad. Gendicine has done many wonders for a lot of people, but just like any other treatment, efficacy may vary from person to person. But I do hope that, just like the many people who have gotten such a marvelous response to Gendicine, your dad will experience respite from cancer. Best of luck to you and your dad. :)

  3. Thanks Stef. Btw, how can i tell the difference between the growing tumor because it is growing or it is inflammation due to injection? And how long I will know whether it is actually working or I have to quit from the treatment? Many thanks,

  4. Fenty, it may be best for you to ask your oncologist. I don't have with me the recommendations on gene therapy right now. I will try to dig information based on journal articles and guidelines (if they exist for gendicine) and get back to you, but I also believe that it's best to build a relationship with your oncologist and ask what is expected. If you don't trust your oncologist, you can always seek a second opinion. I feel like a relationship with a doctor you don't trust is not a fruitful one, and I don't want to endanger the trust that you have with your doctor. :)

    But I will also check for evidence. Get back to you soon, Fenty.

  5. What is the typical cost of gene therapy per treatment (esp. for breast cancers)? Thank you, Stef.

  6. Hello, Anonymous, I think it's best if you ask the specialists who are now offering the therapy. :) You and your doctor will need to discuss the number of sessions needed before a price is discussed.