From the blog

CRISPR Could be used on Mesothelioma Patients Soon

Published: November 22, 2019

Using CRISPR, scientists may be able to treat mesothelioma patients. They are testing the safety of CRISPR on cancer patients, and this could have large effects on future patients including those suffering from mesothelioma. CRISPR gene editing is a technique created by scientists that mimics the way bacteria cells defend against viruses. It is not as complex, but the technique is very beneficial for patients with different diseases. Immune system cells are first taken out of the body and are modified using CRISPR. They were modified to be more aggressive towards cancer cells, then returned to the patient where they could fight the cancer.

CRISPR is a mix between immunotherapy and gene editing. Immunotherapy is a new approach that uses the immune system to fight cancer cells. Mesothelioma, while not studied directly with CRISPR, would be a great candidate for trials because the prognosis for patients is not good, with many not living a year past their diagnosis. If doctors were able to take advantage of CRISPR and use it for mesothelioma patients, they would potentially be able to live longer. New studies like this can change lives and potentially lengthen them.

The treatment consisted of cells being removed from the patients’ bodies and CRISPR being used to remove three genes from the cells. This allowed the patients’ cells to attack cancer cells more aggressively. Treatment was given to patients in January, April, and August. The patients treated did not have any worrisome side effects, which is exactly what the researchers hoped would happen. This means that the treatment is ready to be used on a larger group of cancer patients. The next trial will have 18 participants that have sarcoma, melanoma, or myeloma.

The researchers at Penn Medicine will be presenting their findings at the American Society of Hematology meetings in Orlando, Florida in December. This is great news for mesothelioma patients because this treatment could soon be used on them to help them survive. This does not mean that the treatment is ready to be used on patients regularly though. It is still experimental and needs to be tested thoroughly to ensure it is safe to be used on different cancers.

Rob Stein, “CRISPR Approach To Fighting Cancer Called ‘Promising’ In 1st Safety Test” NPR (November 6, 2019). [Link]


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