The first edition of cells to fight cancer using CRISPR shows "encouraging" results in three patients in the US
After being approved in 2016, the first major human genomic experiment using CRISPR in the United States, whose objective is to try to fight cancer, today has its first results, which according to those responsible are "encouraging".
A group of researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center, at the University of Pennsylvania, United States, have extracted and edited cells of the immune system from the blood of three cancer patients using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, and then installed them again in these volunteers. According to the information, the edited cells have so far not caused significant side effects.
It is still too early to consider it a reliable therapy
This treatment, they explain, consisted of removing three genes that may have been hindering these cells' ability to attack the disease, as well as adding a fourth new feature to help them do immunology work.
Dr. Edward Stadtmauer, study leader at the University of Pennsylvania, commented:
"It is the most complicated genetic and cellular engineering that has been attempted so far. This is proof that we can safely do genetic editing of these cells."
The experiment was carried out on three patients who agreed to participate in this treatment, two with multiple myeloma and one with sarcoma. After almost three months of treatment, one patient's cancer continued to worsen and the other remained stable, while the third patient took a few weeks, making it too early to diagnose.
According to the researchers, what is truly important so far is that it has been successfully successfully genetically altering human cells to help them recognize and fight cancer, with "minimal and manageable side effects" in patients.
Based on these early results, the modified cells have survived and have been multiplying as intended. And it is that this is intended as a one-time treatment, since the cells, which are returned to the patient intravenously, must multiply within the body and act as a living medicine that actively cures cancer.
Despite all this, it is still too early to consider this therapy to be reliable, as it is not known whether it will truly succeed in completely fighting cancer cells and improving the lives of patients. Dr. Aaron Gerds, a cancer specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, mentioned: "It is very early, but I am incredibly encouraged by this".
Those responsible for this experiment have set the goal of treating 15 more patients in order to evaluate the safety and proper functioning of this genetic treatment of cell editing.
Gene editing using CRISPR has proven to be ideal for permanently changing DNA and thus being able to attack some of the root causes of a disease. However, all of this has been tested in controlled laboratory environments, and this is the first time it has been done in humans, at least in the United States, since China has been experimenting on humans for some years.
It should be noted that this American treatment does not seek to change the DNA inside a person's body, at least that is what those responsible say. Instead, it seeks to "remove, alter, and return" cells to the patient with a kind of "superpower" to fight cancer, a new way to explore immunotherapy.
Next December, during the annual Conference of the American Society of Hematology, all the technical details of this new genetic editing technique will be announced, where it is expected that there will be new information on the progress of patients and the next steps to follow.