The brave and intrepid Chinese researchers are the trailblazers and pioneers in human gene editing procedures.
Chinese scientists are to perform the very first genetic editing procedure on human beings this month. This is being done in a quest to find a treatment for lung cancer. A team of oncologists will be giving patients shots of cells that have been changed using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology.
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CRISPR is the acronym for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”. It has been declared the ultimate breakthrough of 2015.
This technology lets scientists selectively edit genome parts and substitute them with novel DNA fragments. As for Cas9, it is an enzyme that has the capacity to edit DNA.
The genes undergo modification for the better via this procedure. A whole lot of cutting and pasting takes place at the genetic level through this technique.
The team which is carrying out this scheme started its assigned work towards the end of 2015. The go-ahead signal was given by the authorities. It is slightly controversial since the ethical implications go very deep.
Yet such things come with the territory since every new and bold invention and discovery has met with violent opposition before it is accepted as the norm.
There will be ten volunteers who will all be lung cancer patients. After perusing the many applications sent by those with lung cancer, these ten will be selected depending on the severity of their terminal illness.
The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing will last between two and three months. Yet the trial could go on for 365 days or more, according to Xinhua News. T cells will be extracted from the blood of the patients.
Also the gene that stored PD-1 protein will be deleted from the game. This normally limits the cells’ capacity to trigger an immune response.
These edited cells will be cultured in the lab after their reintroduction in the patients’ blood. This will then start the immune response which will hopefully kill of the lung cancer tumors.
This procedure is similar to building a cancer-fighting army of chemicals outside the patient’s body. It holds great promise as a future technique for the cure of lung cancer.
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The only problem that might crop up is that the T cells may harm the patients’ healthy cells as well. This would definitely not be a good thing. Therefore, the maximum care will have to be taken lest a palliative measure end up hurting the patients in the end.