CRISPR/Cas9, or clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats, is a technique that involves identifying the location of mutations in genes and then using Cas9, a gene-editing enzyme, to cut and remove unwanted portions of DNA along a gene sequence.
In a recent study, researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) concluded that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is effective in treating metastatic cancers, which are cancers that have spread from the original site to other parts of the body.
The study, funded by the Israel Cancer Research Fund and published this month in the journal Science Advances, is the first to show that CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to treat cancer in living organisms.
The researchers tested the groundbreaking technology on mice with two deadly cancers: glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, and metastatic ovarian cancer.
The researchers showed that a single treatment with CRISPR-LNPs doubled the average life expectancy of mice with glioblastoma tumors, increasing their survival rate by around 30%. In addition, the CRISPR-LNPs system increased the overall survival rate of mice with metastatic ovarian cancer by 80%.
Despite the technology being in its infancy, the study results are promising and suggest that the method could be used to treat other types of cancer, genetic diseases and even viral diseases like AIDS.
“We now intend to go on to experiments with blood cancers that are very interesting genetically, as well as genetic diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” Peer explained.
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