Picture of a bone cancer cell
First human CRISPR trial given go-ahead: your questions answered
Bone cancer cell: could CRISPR be the answer?
Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library
By Michael Le Page
The CRISPR gene editing revolution is happening even faster than we expected. Many thought human trials of therapies using the technique were still years away. But yesterday, a US federal committee gave its nod of approval – meaning the first trial could start later this year. The therapy is designed to treat cancer but the main purpose of this first trial is safety. If it succeeds, it will encourage many other groups to start testing treatments that involve CRISPR.
What does the trial involve?
Immune cells called T-cells will be taken from people with specific forms of three kinds of tumours – melanoma, sarcoma and myeloma. An entirely new gene will be added to these T-cells, for a receptor that binds to a protein called NY‐ES0‐1, which is found on many kinds of tumour cells.
Equipped with this new receptor, the T-cells will seek out and destroy tumour cells.
Many reports state that the gene for this new T-cell receptor will be added using CRISPR genome editing, but this is not the case. In fact, a harmless virus will be used to add the gene.
CRISPR, on the other hand, will be used to destroy the existing T-cell receptor to make the altered cells focus on targeting tumours instead of targeting other bits of foreign DNA or viruses. Since two genes code for this receptor, this involves disabling two genes.
CRISPR will also be used to disable PD1 – an off-switch that sits on the outside of T-cells. Many cancers evolve the ability to use this switch to turn off PD1 and block their attacks.
Finally, the engineered cells will be infused back into the patient’s blood.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/20 ... -answered/
scissors for the genetic seamstresses.......