Genetic tagging

The insertion of a foreign marker gene into cells during a tumour biopsy, and replacing the marked cells prior to treatment can provide a sensitive new indicator of minimal residual disease after chemotherapy. Neomycin phosphotransferase (NeoR)—an enzyme that metabolizes the aminoglycoside, G418—has been retrovirally transduced ex vivo into purged marrow from AML and neuroblastoma patients prior to re-infusion. In those individuals with relapsed disease, as few as one in 106 cells expressing the NeoR gene has been detected by PCR, indicating failure of the purging process.

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