In the United States, the National Institutes of Health advisory panel has given the University of Pennsylvania the approval to go ahead to conduct human clinical trials to attempt to cure myeloma, melanoma, and sarcoma cancer by using the CRISPR/Cas9 enzyme treatment.
CRISPR/Cas9 is a genome editing enzyme, which targets a specific section of a DNA strand. CRISPR/Cas9 then binds and cuts the DNA, essentially editing the targeted DNA strand by removing or adding nucleic acids to the sequence. The revolutionary discovery of this enzyme has raised countless discussions about the possibilities that genome editing could bring to the health industry, in terms of curing illnesses, cancers, or even preventing genetic disorders. The possibility of even editing the human genome at the embryonic level has even been discussed. With that being said, this type of enzyme used for genome editing raises many ethical debates and will be a topic of discussion for many years to come.
A study conducted last year in Toronto at the Hospital for Sick Children introduced the topic of possible therapeutic treatments using CRISPR technology when it was used to edit the genomic mutation that was responsible for causing Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The use of CRISPR/Cas9 as a therapeutic treatment option has also been explored in the United States as a potential treatment for HIV. Therefore, the use of CRISPR/Cas9 as a possible cancer treatment in humans is consequently the next health issue to be explored.
This potential human clinical trial of attempting to cure myeloma, melanoma, and sarcoma using CRISPR/Cas9 still has to be approved by the FDA, but once that has been completed, 18 individuals will undergo the treatment funded by Sean Parker’s cancer foundation. Scientists will use T-cells containing the enzyme to attack the genome of the tumors, hopefully editing its DNA and stopping the cancer all together. If successful, this type of treatment could see application in various illnesses, genetic disorders, and other cancers.
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