CRISPR-Cas9 is not exactly a household name. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. Cas9 stands for CRISPR associated protein 9, an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease enzyme associated with CRISPR. If you read what they really stand for, it might make your head hurt. It is really complex. CRISPR was discovered in 2007 when a yogurt company found a bacteria which could eliminate viruses. The technology has evolved dramatically over the last few years into a gene editing technique which may become a powerful tool for the cure of cancer.
A team of Chinese scientists received ethical approval on July 6. The potential risks and rewards from the technique were evaluated by a review board at a hospital in Chengdu, China. The clinical trial is expected to begin this month. Led by an oncologist, the team will remove cells from advanced stage lung cancer patients and modify the cells using CRISPR-Cas9. After editing the DNA with great precision, the cells will be injected back into the patient. There are at least several significant risks, but laboratory experiments have shown it is possible to literally eliminate tumors. Today’s treatments are aimed at killing the cancer cells. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. The gene editing approach is designed to modify our DNA and have our body fight the cancer instead of chemotherapy. Some top experts are very optimistic CRISPR-Cas9 may become the cure researchers have been seeking for decades.
Read the full story at Chinese Scientists To Perform First Ever CRISPR Gene-Editing Trial On Humans. Read more about the role of genetics in the future of healthcare in Health Attitude.