Cancer Can Be Treated With the Help of CRISPR

Every year more than 8 million of people die because of cancer. World Health Organization predicts that in 20 years the number of people who have cancer will increase at 70 per cent as well as deaths related to cancer. Scientists are untiringly trying to find the way to cure cancer. Recently China has introduced a new method of fighting cancer with the help of our immune system.

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Every year more than 8 million of people die because of cancer. World Health Organization predicts that in 20 years the number of people who have cancer will increase at 70 per cent as well as deaths related to cancer. Scientists are untiringly trying to find the way to cure cancer. Recently China has introduced a new method of fighting cancer with the help of our immune system.

People who have cancer spend a lot of money on buying drugs and having special procedures hoping to recover from this disease or at least to prolong the period of remission. When conventional methods of cancer treatment are not effective doctors suggest to try some new methods, for example treatment with the help of CRISPR/cas9 (Interesting information).

What does “CRISPR” mean?

In 1980s scientists distinguished strange repeated parts of genes which were separated by the unrepeated parts in the cells of bacteria. Such parts were later called CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats). The scientists did not investigate these gens until 2005 when it was stated that CRISPR contains the parts of DNA of viruses with which the bacteria interacted before. It looked as if CRISPR acted as an immune system in the cells of the bacteria.

When this “immune system” faces a new virus that has intruded a cell, at first, it starts to look if there are traces of such virus in its “list”. After finding it, CRISPR start to produce a special enzyme that is able to destroy or cut the gene of virus.

The scientists decided to use such feature of CRISPR to treat people. They chose cas9 enzyme to cut the gene.

Testing of CRISPR/cas9

Testing of CRISPR/cas9 took place in China in 2016 (For more information visit). The patient was injected his own CRISPR-modified T-lymphocytes. With the help of enzyme cas9 the scientists managed to remove a special protein PD1 that makes immune system unable to fight against a disease and contributes to the development of tumor.

The head of the experiment Lu You says that the infusion of T-lymphocytes to the first patient was successful, and soon he will receive a second dose of modified cells. If the patient does not have any significant side effects, they will extend the experiment and increase the number of people involved in it. After the first infusion patients should remain under the supervision of the doctor for six months to check if the infusion causes any side effects.

CRISPR testing in the USA

The researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are going to investigate the influence of CRISPR and its interaction with the cancer tumor further (For more information visit). They are going to add slight changes into the structure of T-lymphocytes providing it with chimeric antigenic receptors (CAR) and cutting off T-cell receptor (TCR) as well as PD1 protein.

18 volunteers who have myeloma, sarcoma or melanoma will take part in the experiment. All the procedures will be done outside their body, it means that the doctors will modify the blood cells of a patient in a laboratory and then inject it back. It is considered to be a more safe method, because injection of CRISPR directly in the body of a patient may lead to the unpredictable reaction of the immune system.

Also, further testing of CRISPR will take place in Europe, where scientists are planning to find out the effect of modified cells on a genetic disease beta-thalassemia.

Cancer is one of the greatest problems nowadays. Still, there is no 100 per cent effective means of fighting it. Using CRISPR may become such a means, but at first, the influence of CRISPR-modified cells should be further investigated. The only thing we have to do is to wait and hope that in some years we will hear good news about the effect of CRISPR.

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