In Brief A team of Physicians at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine now has their project of modifying the immune cells of 18 different cancer patients with the CRISPR-Cas9 system approved by the National Institute of Health.
Hello Cancer, meet CRISPR. CRISPR is the gift that keeps on giving-when it’s not fighting blindness, tackling HIV, or even recording real-time immune responses, it is taking on the emperor of all maladies: cancer.
What’s even more fascinating about this use of CRISPR is that the National Institute of Health’s Recombinant DNA Research Advisory Committee has approved the first-ever use of CRISPR in human cancer therapy, a monumental step in the history of the gene-editing technology.
Offensive: T-cells will be modified to have a gene that produces a protein that will help T-cells identify and target cancer cells. Removal: T-cells will be modified so that they do not have a protein that is theorized to inhibit cancer cell identification and targeting.
Defensive: T-cells will have a gene removed, so that they will no longer produce a certain protein that identifies them as Immune T-cells, thereby preventing cancer cells from inhibiting them.
You may be scratching your head, thinking that approving this experimental therapy is a “No-brainer,” but human gene therapy trials have been bumpy since 1999.