First human genetic editing trial in China
Chinese scientists are going to perform the world’s first genetic editing trial on humans in an attempt to find a cure for lung cancer.
It will be performed as the trial phase by injecting cells that have been modified using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique into the patients.
- In this trial, scientists will extract T cells, a type of immune cell, from the patient’s blood.
- Then they will put the gene that encodes the PD-1 protein, which normally limits the cell’s capacity to launch an immune response.
- The edited cells will be allowed to multiply in the lab before being reintroduced to the patients. This process will kick-start the T cells to launch an attack on the tumour cells.
- This method is like building a cancer-fighting army outside the patient body. However the only concern is that T cells might also attack normal tissue.
What is CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique?
- CRISPR short form of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. It allows scientists to selectively edit genome parts and replace them with new DNA stretches.
- Cas9 is an enzyme that can edit DNA, allowing the alteration of genetic patterns by genome modification. CRISPR is a collection of DNA sequences that direct Cas9 where to cut and paste.
- CRISPR-Cas9 technology has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of blood diseases, tumours and other genetic diseases.