Israeli Scientists Revolutionize Cancer Treatment with Discovery of Genetic ‘Scissors’
A revolutionary approach that has precisely snipped away cancerous DNA in animal trials, may be introduced in two years to fight human cancers.
Dan Peer, a professor and cancer expert at the university, described the “CRISPR genome editing system,” as RNA shearing DNA like “tiny scissors.”
“This is the first study in the world to prove that the CRISPR genome editing system, which works by cutting DNA, can effectively be used to treat cancer in an animal,” Peer told The Times.
“If we can use this technology, then within three treatments we can destroy a tumor,” Peer added. “This technology can physically cut the DNA in cancerous cells, and those cells will not survive.”
Peer’s study, already reviewed by fellow scientists and published on Nov. 18 in Science Advances, explained although “molecularly targeted inhibitors and immunotherapy have greatly improved cancer responses with reduced toxicity and adverse reactions,” individuals administered cancer treatment often experience “drug resistance” and “repeated administration, which increases treatment-related toxicity and treatment cost and severely reduces patient quality of life.”Drug resistance” and “repeated administration, which increases treatment-related toxicity and treatment cost and severely reduces patient quality of life.”
However, with the technology’s application, “the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing has the potential to permanently disrupt tumor survival genes, which could overcome the repeated dosing limitations of traditional cancer therapies, improve treatment efficacy, and require fewer treatments,” according to Science Advances.
Peer and his colleagues Daniel Rosenblum and Anna Gutkin explained more in a video presentation.
Rosenblum said CRISPR “enables us to basically modify and disrupt any gene of interest in any cell type we want.”
“Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer, with a life expectancy of 15 months after diagnosis and a five-year survival rate of only 3%,” The Times reported.
“We really believe we can treat not only these diseases but open new avenues for new therapeutics for other cancers and other genetic diseases,” Gutkin added.
Peer said over 500 types of cancers exist, some possessing “unique genetic hallmarks,” for which he hoped the CRISPR genome could be applied.
Based on the team’s studies, Peer asserted in the video, if used no more than three times, CRISPR could “probably be effective enough in order to extend survival but also improve the quality of life.”
“When we first spoke of treatments with messenger RNA twelve years ago, people thought it was science fiction,” Peer told The Times. “I believe that in the near future, we will see many personalized treatments based on genetic messengers, for cancer and various genetic diseases.”
In a Nov. 21 interview with Israel’s i24 News, Peer compared the CRISPR genome’s strategy similar to the coronavirus vaccines currently undergoing trials, calling those inoculations “messenger RNA-based vaccines.”
Peer said the CRISPR genome has a more sophisticated “GPS” type of delivery, in that it “can easily identify the cancer cells and not the healthy cells.”
“These technologies will be able to change medicine because we will be able to use the same industrial processes, in order to use it not only for vaccines but for therapeutics,” Peer said.
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