Treatment For Cancer Can Be Revolutionised By This Technique
Immunotherapy trains a patient’s own immune cells to recognise and fight cancer.
Immunotherapy trains a patient’s own immune cells to recognise and fight cancer.(Photo: iStockphoto)

Treatment For Cancer Can Be Revolutionised By This Technique

It’s a development that can have far reaching implications in treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.

Scientists have found a way to remove genes from white blood cells of the immune system and to insert replacements. What makes this important is that they can now do this swiftly, reports The New York Times.

This development can have far reaching implications not just for cancer treatment, but also for HIV, Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The findings were published in the journal Nature.

Also Read : Are We Close to Curing Terminal Cancer? Decoding Immunotherapy

No patient has been treated using this yet, but that could change soon.

The researchers have used the method in the laboratory to alter the abnormal immune cells of children with a rare genetic condition. They plan to return the altered cells to the children in an effort to cure them.

In immunotherapy, that is currently being used to treat some patients with rare blood cancers, scientists who edit the genome, rely on modified viruses to slice open DNA in a cell and to deliver new genes into the cell. This takes time and is limiting in use.

But researchers have now replaced viruses with electrical fields to deliver both gene-editing tools and new genetic material into the cell. This opens up the possibility of using the therapy to cure any type of cancer.

Writing in the paper, the researchers say,

Here we developed a CRISPR–Cas9 genome-targeting system that does not require viral vectors, allowing rapid and efficient insertion of large DNA sequences (greater than one kilobase) at specific sites in the genomes of primary human T cells, while preserving cell viability and function.

(With inputs from The New York Times)

Follow our Cancer section for more stories.

    Also Watch