Using CRISPR, a genome-editing technology, scientists can modify a patient’s T cells to detect and target cancer cells to treat the disease. CRISPR technology was invented less than four years ago, but so far presents the easiest way to edit blood cells. The approved trial, led by the University of Pennsylvania, will test whether or not CRISPR is safe to use on humans. If successful, the therapy will be used to treat cancers such as myeloma, melanoma, and sarcomas.
“Researchers in the field of gene transfer are excited by the potential of utilizing CRISPR/Cas9 to repair or delete mutations that are involved in numerous human diseases in less time and at a lower cost than earlier gene editing systems,” says Carrie Wolinetz, associate director of science policy at the NIH.