Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CRISPR Trial in China

We have been watching CRISPR technology for about three years now with a combination of expectation and concern.

Nature reports a CRISPR trial in non small cell lung cancer by blocking the mediating effects of PD-1.

The Nature article states:

The Chinese trial will enrol patients who have metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and for whom chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments have failed. “Treatment options are very limited,” says Lu. “This technique is of great promise in bringing benefits to patients, especially the cancer patients whom we treat every day.”Lu’s team will extract immune cells called T cells from the blood of the enrolled patients, and then use CRISPR–Cas9 technology — which pairs a molecular guide able to identify specific genetic sequences on a chromosome with an enzyme that can snip the chromosome at that spot — to knock out a gene in the cells. The gene encodes a protein called PD-1 that normally acts as a check on the cell’s capacity to launch an immune response, to prevent it from attacking healthy cells.

Now the PD-1 blockade helps the body to reject self immune attack. It also blocks targeted immunotherapeutiucs.  The risk is that by placing this gene in certain cells it may proliferate and cause catastrophic immune breakdown. There does not as of yet appear to have been adequate research along these lines. We know that many MAB therapies require this blockage but there are two way elements at work. Here we are inserting a gene to block, well just possibly everything!