• Kyodo

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Doctors at Okayama University Hospital on Tuesday commenced Japan’s first gene therapy on a patient with prostate cancer.

A team of doctors at the hospital’s urology department said they began treating a 65-year-old man, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy.

According to the hospital, the doctors planned to directly inject into the man’s cancerous cells nontoxic adenovirus vectors in which an antiviral-function-enhancing enzyme is incorporated, while monitoring the operation by ultrasound.

The next stage, starting today, requires the injection of antiviral agents for two consecutive weeks to eventually kill the cancer cells, the hospital said.

The man was diagnosed in 1998 as suffering from prostate cancer. While hormone therapy proved temporarily effective, the patient later suffered a relapse, which prompted the hospital to decide to apply gene therapy.

On average, nearly 10,000 men die of prostate cancer every year in Japan and the number of terminal cases has been on the increase, according to the hospital.

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