CRISPR―a gene editing tool for the treatment of cancer

Scientists have been working on cancer treatment in the United States used CRISPR―a gene editing tool―for the first time for the growth of genetically modified blood cells of two patients. Human body naturally contains T cells, which help the body in fighting against bacteria, viruses, and any other parasites.

According to ongoing research at the University of Pennsylvania which involves genetically modified ” T cells” in a human’s body, the aim is to attack and destroy cancerous cells. The researchers collected the blood sample from the patient’s body and modified their generic makeup before inducing into the patient’s body.

The breakthrough involves two kinds of modifications: 1. a gene was added to the T cells to make them attack cancer cells; 2. by using CRISPR, a gene called PD-1, which acted as a brake to the body’s immune system responses, was deleted.  Although, pharmaceutical drugs, called immunotherapies, which suppress PD-1 have effectively been used to treat a few cancers. But now the idea is to directly install the suppressing capability into the DNA of T cells.

It is worth mentioning here that CRISPR, read as crisper is an abbreviation of CRISPR-Cas9, a novel DNA modifying technique that won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 2018. Like a pair of scissors that more often use to modify DNA with precision this technique works.

The Pennsylvania cancer study is just one of the many studies being carried out in the world of medicine. A patient in Europe, for example, became the first person to be treated for an inherited disease, beta thalassemia, using CRISPR. Similarly, Chinese hospitals and research groups employed scores of related efforts using CRISPR.

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