Sunday, November 20, 2016

CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first time

A long term goal over the years for many biomedical researchers has been to develop efficient and reliable ways to make precise, targeted changes to the genome of living cells.

This particular study, led by oncologist  Lu You, took place in China at Sichuan University. Researchers removed immune cells from the blood of a patient with aggressive lung cancer , then disabled a particular gene using CRISPR-Cas9. CRISPR-Cas9 combines a DNA-cutting enzyme with a molecular guide, which tells the DNA-cutting enzyme precisely where to cut. The gene that is disabled codes for the protein PD-1. PD-1 normally put the brakes on a cells immune response, allowing cancers to proliferate. The research team then cultured the edited cells, exponentially increasing their number, and injected them back into the patient. The team is hopeful that without the PD-1 protein, the edited cells will be able to attack and destroy the cancer.

This process can be revolutionary as a cancer treatment, but more research must be done in order to see if the absence of the PD-1 protein enables the edited cells to destroy the cancer.

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