Two cancer patients in the United States treated with controversial CRISPR technology
If you haven't heard of CRISPR, it's a gene-editing technique that could be used to eradicate diseases
Two human patients in the United States had their genes edited in clinical trials of CRISPR. The controversial technology to treat patients with myeloma have been administered by The University of Pennsylvania.
A few months ago, Chinese scientists made headlines when they announced that twin girls born under their supervision had their genes edited while in the womb. The clinical trials by the University of Pennsylvania are being done only to treat mutations in adult patients.
The gene-editing tool, CRISPR, allows scientists to modify DNA instead of trying to fix problems from errors in the genome itself.
Several clinical trials of CRISPR in the US are aimed at removing whole DNA sections that would allow cancer to thrive, and replacing them with new and healthy genes. This means that traits associated with autism, cancer, melanoma, multiple myeloma, sarcoma, genetic blood disorders, diseases, etc. would simply be edited out.
To date, two out of the 18 people, one with myeloma, the other with sarcoma, enrolled in CRISPR clinical trails have gotten the treatment in the US.
How does CRISPR work on people living with illness and disease?
Scientists take immune cells from patients and use CRISPR to modify them. In the past, doctors would simply give shots of dead/weak viruses into patients to help boost their immune system. Now, their DNA would just get modified (using CRISPR) to remove the issue and re-injected BACK into the patients.
Photo: A scientific researcher extracts the RNA from embryonic stem cells in a laboratory, at the University of Sao Paulo's human genome research center, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 4, 2008. Brazil's Federal Supreme Court will decide tomorrow on the continuity of the embryonic stem cells research, after Roman Catholic church officials and anti-abortion groups urged to ban it, as the stem cells extraction entails the destruction of the embryo. AFP PHOTO/Mauricio LIMA/Getty Images