CRISPR can enhance the effectiveness of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, a revolutionary immunotherapy technique
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, are immune cells that have been altered to express a new, chimeric protein on their surface. This protein allows them to track and bind to specific signals on the surface of cancer cells. Depending on the receptor you create, these cells can target many different kinds of antigens that cancer cells use - differentiating them from the normal neighbouring cells. These cells can be altered via gene therapy, through a simpler injection of a gene, but new techniques are utilising gene editing technologies to improve CAR T cell formation.
"Cancer cells are relentless in their attempt to evade treatment, so we need CAR T cells that can match and outlast them. This new discovery shows that we may be able to harness the power of genome editing to give these 'living therapies' a built-in boost. We are eager to continue exploring how genome-editing technology could give us the next generation of CAR T cell therapy"
CRISPR, the buzzword of the day, enables precise editing of DNA. Now, researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer have used the system to insert the desired gene for the chimeric receptor in a desired location in the genome. Conventional gene integration techniques used to create CAR T cells randomly insert the new gene into the genome; frequently causing side effects. The use of CRISPR allows you to pinpoint a predetermined location, and slot in the new DNA into this position.
The result was CAR T cells with boosted stamina; more able to hunt down tumours. Indeed the researchers found the cells enhanced tumour rejection.
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