As early as the coming month, Chinese scientists will be the very first people to test cells that are modified using CRISPR on people. They will inject people with the cells using the gene-editing technique. The first patients who are to be tested are those with lung cancer according to an oncologist in a Chinese Hospital.
The ethical approval was given from the hospital’s review board on 6th of July. CRISPR-Cas9 modifies cells. This is a new method of doing genetic engineering. It actually allows scientists to control individual’s DNA with accuracy and ease.
It has a great potential to benefit cancer patients who are treated every day. Oncologists and researchers are excited to try this technique as it will change how cancer treatment is administered.
Metastatic non-small cell lung cancer patients will be enrolled for the Chinese trial as well as patients who have undergone radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other different treatments that have failed. Considering that the cancer treatment options are quite limited, the CRISPR technology is anticipated to bringing great benefits to cancer patients.
The technique works by extracting the patient’s immune cells from the blood and then using CRISPR to pair a molecular guide which is able to identify very specific genetic sequences. The genetic sequence is found on a chromosome that has an enzyme that can cut the chromosome at that particular spot. This is so as to seek out a specific gene in the targeted cells.
The gene then encodes a particular PD-1 protein which is meant to check the capacity of the cell in launching an immune response so as to avert it from attacking the body’s healthy cells.
The cells that have been gene-edited will then go to the lab for multiplication and then re-introduced into the patient’s bloodstream. The cells will then circulate in the blood and hopefully lock onto the cancer cells.