With CRISPR cancer treatment tech’s success, could this be the disease’s end?
The researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have just used the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system to forever revolutionize the fight against cancer.
The treatment—when used on mice—was shown to shrink aggressive tumors and increase survival rates without harming healthy cells. Meaning only cancer cells are attacked, effectively leaving healthy cells unharmed.
CRISPR Cancer Treatment Explained
The CRISPR cancer treatment targets fusion genes, which are mutations created when two genes combine to form one hybrid—often leading to cancer.
Previously, researchers found MAN2A1-FER, a fusion gene known to be associated with prostate, liver, lung, and ovarian cancer. It also contributes to the growth and spread of these tumors.
The unique DNA fingerprint of fusion genes could, however, be its own downfall with the CRISPR cancer treatment targeting specific DNA sequences. The treatment seeks out fusion gene patterns and replaces them with cancer-killing ones.
“This is the first time that gene editing has been used to specifically target cancer fusion genes,” said Jian-Hua Luo, lead author of the study. Luo added:
“The tool lays the groundwork for what could become a totally new approach to treating cancer. Other types of cancer treatments target the foot soldiers of the army. Our approach is to target the command center, so there is no chance for the enemy’s soldiers to regroup in the battlefield for a comeback.”
To test the technique, Luo’s team transplanted human liver and prostate cancer cells into mice and treated one group with the CRISPR cancer tool to target those fusion genes. The second group was given the same treatment targeting fusion genes that they didn’t carry.
From the first group, the mice’s tumors shrunk up to 30 percent, didn’t spread to throughout the body, and all the mice survived the eight-week test.
Meanwhile, the second group had the mice’s tumors grow nearly 40 times larger, spreading to other parts of the body in most cases. None of the mice in this group made it to the end of the test period.Big Plans For CRISPR-Cas9
The genome editing system has already proven itself to be an incredible tool, giving us new and amazing ways to battle muscular dystrophy, blindness, and HIV.
By also editing human immune cells to more efficiently battle cancer cells, the CRISPR cancer treatment has now been used in human trials.
It truly is an exciting time in the world of medical research as developments continue showing that the CRISPR cancer technique can remit cancer cells.
Despite this, researchers have bigger plans for the CRISPR cancer technique. They plan on testing further in hopes of completely eradicating cancer.