- Researchers have developed a new system using the CRISPR genome editing system to attack and kill cancer cells.
- The system targets cancel cells directly and, like “scissors”, cut their DNA and kill them.
- Further trials and tests are needed, but the promising new system could eventually be used to fight cancer in humans.
The fight against cancer has been going on since, well, pretty much since human doctors realized it was deadly. There has been much progress in the fight against the disease, although a true cure has always seemed out of reach. Researchers at Tel Aviv University believe they are making progress toward the incredible goal of using the CRISPR genome editing system.
As the researchers explain in a new paper published in Scientific progress, the tool developed in the hope of correcting potentially harmful genetic traits, may prove to be the ultimate tool in destroying deadly cancers. The team̵
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The description of how the system works to attack cancer cells sounds incredible. The researchers used the nanoparticles to send a message to the CRISPR enzyme Cas9 to target cancer cells and act “like a molecular scissors” to cut the cell’s DNA and kill it.
The researchers tried to prove that the system works by targeting glioblastoma and metastatic ovarian cancer, which are two of the cancers with the highest mortality. They are notoriously aggressive cancers and claim many, many lives each year. Targeting these cancers in mice, a single treatment with the new CRISPR system doubled the survival rate of the animals. It is after only a single round of treatment, which is pretty incredible.
“This is the first study in the world that proves that the CRISPR editing system can be used to effectively treat cancer in a living animal,” said Professor Dan Peer, co-author of the research, in a statement. “It must be emphasized that this is not chemotherapy. There are no side effects and a cancer cell treated this way will never become active again. The molecular scissors in Cas9 cut the cancer cell’s DNA and neutralize it, preventing permanent replication. ”
Going forward, researchers want to try their hand at tackling other types of diseases, including blood cancer and genetic diseases, to see how big a difference the gene editing system can make. If the trials prove promising, we may soon see CRISPR used for a variety of ailments and perhaps even as a promising tool to eradicate many types of cancers.