CRISPR + Chemotherapy Attack Efficiently Lung Cancer

The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system may be able to restore the effectiveness of first-line chemotherapies used to treat lung cancer by deleting or “knocking out” a gene in cancer tumors that helps the tumors develop resistance to the drugs. That was the conclusion of a new studythat  has been published in the journal Molecular Therapy Oncolytics by scientists from The Gene Editing Institute of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute at Christiana Care Health System.

The study reports that in both tissue culture and in a mouse, tumor growth stopped and there was a dramatic decrease in the volume of existing tumors when chemotherapy was combined with CRIPSP-Cas9, which was used to disable a tumor gene known as NRF2. Previous studies have shown that the NRF2 gene controls cell functions in lung cancer tumors that helps them thwart the effect of chemotherapies that might otherwise reduce or eliminate them entirely.

Our goal is to see if CRISPR can be used with chemotherapy to provide a safe, affordable way to give patients who are not responding to treatment at least a fighting chance against this very challenging cancer,” said Eric Kmiec, Ph.D., the principal author of the study and the director of the Gene Editing Institute. “We believe that finding ways to use CRISPR to improve existing treatments will lead to some of the first benefits for patients while we tackle the vital ethical issues around the use of CRISPR for edits that can be passed on through DNA. This is an exciting step in the journey of exploring the health benefits of gene editing.”

The study was led by Pawel Bialk, research scientist at the Gene Editing Institute, the nation’s only CRISPR-focused research initiative situated in a community health care system.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Dr. Kmiec said there are chemotherapies that have helped patients achieve remission or at least live longer and enjoy a better quality of life by significantly slowing the progress of the disease. But he said some patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common form of lung cancer, are resistant to chemotherapy agents used to treat the disease or develop resistance after being exposed to the drugs.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/

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