Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chinese scientists to pioneer first human CRISPR trial

     A cure for cancer. Something that everyone would love to see but most have little hope for. With recent breakthroughs in DNA modification it may be a more attainable goal than ever before. In China, gene editing is at a forefront in my labs and they lead the pack when it comes to gene "snipping". This amazing new development allows scientists to extract immune cells, T cells according to Lu You, and edit the very genetic code within them using enzymes, just like our biology class did when using the enzymes on E.coli. Then once their internal code is changed, they are added back into the patients blood stream where they will, if everything goes according to plan, multiply and help to make other cells immune.
     This type of treatment would be a type of last resort for patients who show no signs of improvement when chemo therapy and other methods are used. The fact that this type of treatment is still in the early stages however, means that it will not be very easily available to patients. The study has been approved by the U.S. National Institute of Health, the first step in gaining FDA approval. United States research teams are even set to begin clinical trials by the end of the year. People all across the country and world have high hopes for the revolutionary type of treatment but it isn't a 100% cure for cancer.
      The gene editing, scientifically known as CRISPR, is known to sometimes cut genes at the wrong point which can have very devastating results. At such a small scale it's hard to be completely accurate even with all the research done before hand. Japanese scientist Tetsuya Ishii was quick to criticize the way the Chinese team went about extracting the T cells. She believes that the cells should be taken out of the tumor itself because they are already set up for attacking cancer. Even so, the new type of cancer treatment is gaining momentum everywhere and will hopefully be very successful.
     The fact that a cure for cancer in humans could be within our grasp is shocking. My entire life I've been wondering how long it would take for scientists to pinpoint it. I always believed that one would be discovered and now that it may have been done it makes me feel like one of the biggest medical advancements in human history is going to happen within my lifetime.


  1. Yeah I totally agree with what you said in this response. Especially how cool it is that we will probably witness the cure for cancer within our lifetime. The disease that has effected almost every family in this country in one way or another could likely be eliminated within the next fifty years. That is absolutely insane! It is hard to believe though, that we are just discovering this now and so many people had to suffer and so many families had to suffer equally as much. I can only hope the CRISPR trial will help to minimize the number of suffering families and that the cure is well on its way to being discovered.

  2. The cure for cancer is probably the biggest scientific problem of our time. I agree, it's crazy to think that something that will affect almost every person in some way may soon be gone. For some families cancer is hereditary, and it is a dark cloud that hangs over the family. It would be amazing if those families no longer had to worry about their children being sentenced to chemotherapy and radiation because of their genetics. The CRISPR method seems promising to me. Hopefully, it will be a success and it can be applied to not only cancer but other diseases like HIV in the future.