CRISPR, Gene Editing Now Used For the First Time in US to Treat Two Cancer Patients

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Cancer therapy got a huge boost in April when the University of Pennsylvania confirmed that treatment had begun with two cancer patients using the unique and path-breaking CRISPR technology involving the biomedical wizard CAR-T. CRISPR in case you don’t know is a powerful tool for editing genomes where scientists can actually alter DNA sequences and even modify gene function. This helps them correct many genetic defects, as well as treat and prevent diseases. While it may be too early to draw conclusions, scientists are now applying the technology for the first time to cancer on approval of the FDA. The research team will soon release the results of the therapy ion the two lucky cancer patients.

1CRISPR has now been called into the fight against cancer

The latest now marks the foray of CRISPR technology onto the clinical scene in the USA. It was due for a long time now and unfortunately is a step behind China who with its laxer clinical rules launched its own CRISPR debut in 2017. The USA team had got approval by the FDA to move ahead with the concept in 2016 but they were playing it cautious as they didn’t want to mess up the well times introduction into mainstream medical market.

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2Gene therapy received an unfortunate setback decades ago

One of the main reasons why gene therapy is slow in the USA is the setback it received when one patient Jesse Gelsinger 18 expired due to multiple problems, unreported data and misinformation of the therapy’s side effects on animals and other conflicting issues. This is why the new trials are treading cautiously while moving forward. The combination of CRISPR with CAR-T therapy is being seen as the ultimate Winterfell reunion and is set to combat one of the biggest threats to humanity.

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3What are CAR-T Cells?

CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptors) are receptor proteins that undergo engineering to arm T-Cells with new abilities to target specific proteins. It is used for cancer therapy and is a type of immunotherapy that modifies T cells to recognize cancer cells and destroy them. CAR-T cells can also be derived from a patient’s blood or healthy donors. They are then genetically engineered to target specific antigens found on the surface of tumors that aren’t usually found on healthy cells. The cancer cell is destroyed after that.

Image Source: www.cancerresearchuk.org

4How does it work?

2019 is the year when the world will see how CRISPR can benefit humanity. Even as CRISPR is being touted as the main hero, it actually plays second fiddle to CAR-T who is the main star. CAR-T, as mentioned earlier, is a revolution of sorts in cancer therapy that arms up the immune system by an intelligent genetic hack. The first therapy was Kymriah by Novartis that was used on FDA approval for treatment-resistant blood cancers in children.

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