US regulator has approved the first human clinical trial using the breakthrough gene editing technique, CRISPR/Cas9.
CRISPR technique allows scientists to edit DNA with greater precision and the technology has gained momentum in the past few years.
The National Institute of Health's (NIH) Recombinant DNA research advisory committee (RAC) has accepted the proposal of using CRISPR to treat patients with three types of cancer namely myeloma, melanoma, and sarcoma.
‘National Institutes of Health (NIH) has approved the first-in-human use of the gene editing technology CRISPR for the treatment of three types of cancer: myeloma, melanoma and sarcoma.’
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania along with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of California at San Francisco will conduct the first early stage trial on 15 cancer patients.
According to the researchers, CRISPR/Cas9 technique will be used to edit genes in T cells, the immune cells. First, CRISPR edit will insert a protein engineered to detect cancer cells and instruct the T cells to target them. Next, the protein that could interfere with this process will be removed. Finally, the edit will prevent the cancer cells from disabling the T cells by removing the gene which identifies the T cells as immune cells.
The trial has not yet been approved bt the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulated clinical trials.