Gene-editing breakthrough in fight against cervical cancer


In cancer therapy we know that cancers
are driven by mutant genes that drive cancer cells to grow. In this case, we
know that cervical cancer is driven by a virus and this is a unique gene that
drives the cancer. We’ve used CRISPR to target that gene and that kills only the
cancer cells, leaving normal cells untouched. Basically we cure cancer in
animal models entirely, so cancer cells or the tumors have been cleared 100%
with a 100% survival rates for every animal used in this study. So
what we did is we took human cancer cells and use them in our preclinical
animal models. We gave them cancer. Then we refined and designed a specific
treatment that tightens certain genes within the DNA of that cancer cells.
What CRISPR does is it targets the gene and it breaks it open and the body tries to
repair it by entering a few extra letters – it’s like misspelling a word and
the spellchecker no longer recognizes that as a right word – and the gene doesn’t make any protein and the cell dies. So to our knowledge this is the first example in
the world of completely curing a cancer using CRISPR technology. Others have
shown reductions but this is the first complete cure. We’re really excited! This
study from Griffith University is the first to demonstrate successful
treatment of metastatic cervical cancer using CRISPR gene editing. Our aim is to
translate this exciting finding into the practical treatment for our women. To
help achieve this we have weekly meetings with these exceptional research
scientists aiming to in work out ways this can be done. We are hoping to see
our treatments being employed to human treatment of cervical cancer and other cancers hopefully in the next five years. One of the main things to determine there is to
make sure it’s safe and effective and decide how many treatments we need to
give a patient before they’re cured of their cancer. If we are able to identify
the driver genes that drive the cancer cells, regardless of the type of the
cancer, this means this technology will be able to be utilized to treat that
kind of cancer. There are labs all over the world who are developing CRISPR
technology for cancers and CRISPR technology is
really the next big thing in terms of gene therapy. Things which have a very
poor survival rate now, this technology is going to revolutionize how we treat
cancer and survival rates will improve dramatically in the next 10 years.

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