It is hard to imagine the exciting advancements in finding a cure for cancer. To illustrate this point, a new research study was released that showed using the CRISPER technology from researchers at Tel Aviv University they were able to develop a technique using a nanoparticle-based delivery system that zeros in on the cells which have cancer and only kills the cancerous cells.
The nanoparticle delivery system hasn’t worked in the past because of the “…low editing efficiency in tumors and potential toxicity of existing delivery systems. Here, we describe a safe and efficient lipid nanoparticle…” In other words, the scientist developed a non-harmful way of delivering these extremely small doses of killing particles solely to the cancerous cells and not harming the non-cancerous cells.
One of the researchers, Dr. Dan Peer, VP for R&D and Head of laboratory of Precision Nanomedicine at the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at Tel Aviv University is quoted by saying “The ability to disrupt gene expression in vivo in tumors opens new avenues for cancer treatment and research and potential applications for targeted gene editing of noncancerous tissues.”
“This is the first study in the world to prove that the CRISPR genome editing system can be used to treat cancer effectively in a living animal,” said Peer. “It must be emphasized that this is not chemotherapy. There are no side effects, and a cancer cell treated in this way will never become active again. The molecular scissors of Cas9 cut the cancer cell’s DNA, thereby neutralizing it and permanently preventing replication.”
The researchers decided they would focus their first efforts on two of the most deadly forms of cancer, Glioblastoma (or also known as Brain Cancer and Ovarian Cancer.
Glioblastoma has a terrible survival rate of only 3% of people getting this type of cancer living five years or more. The researchers used mice in their study. They found with only one treatment of this type of nanoparticle delivery method, it increased the average life survival rate from 3% to 30%. Yes, that is a 10 times increase in life expectancy!
Ovarian Cancer ranks fifth from cancer in deaths among women. One of the big issues for those women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer is that they do not learn of their cancer until they have an advanced stage of the cancer. Usually, at the point of diagnosis, ovarian cancer has metastasized and has spread throughout the body. However, the researchers found by one treatment of their CRISP delivery methodology, the overall survival rate went up to 80%. This is wonderful news!
Dr. Peers said “The CRISPR genome editing technology, capable of identifying and altering any genetic segment, has revolutionized our ability to disrupt, repair or even replace genes in a personalized manner,”
“Despite its extensive use in research, clinical implementation is still in its infancy because an effective delivery system is needed to safely and accurately deliver the CRISPR to its target cells. The delivery system we developed targets the DNA responsible for the cancer cells’ survival. This is an innovative treatment for aggressive cancers that have no effective treatments today.”
It is reported that if they can be effective with these two types of cancer that there are great possibilities for other types of cancer as well.
Unfortunately, their research has to continue and go beyond mice into human trials, but there is good reason to be optimistic that this type of treatment may someday (and soon) be ready for the general population of the world.