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US Trial Shows 3 Cancer Patients Had Their Genomes Altered Safely by CRISPR

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U.S. scientists have managed to genetically modify the immune system of three cancer patients using
CRISPR, without creating side effects, a first step for the tool that is revolutionizing biomedical
research.

The expected results from the first phase of a clinical trial were published in the journal Science
on Thursday.

They represent a stepping stone that has not yet shown that CRISPR can be used to fight cancer. In
fact, one of the patients has died since then and the disease has worsened in the other two, but 
the study shows that the technique is non-toxic.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) removed T cells from patients' blood and 
used CRISPR to eliminate genes from cells that could interfere with the immune system's ability to
fight cancer.

They then used a virus to arm T cells to attack a protein typically found on cancer cells called
NY-ESO-1, and reinfused the cells in patients.

Edward Stadtmauer, the study's lead investigator, told AFP that T-cell therapy, in which a 
person's immune system is being exploited to destroy tumors, has been an important turning point 
in the past decade, but "unfortunately, even with that technology there are many patients who don't
respond. "

The idea of ​​this work is therefore to combine the two cutting edge approaches to make T cells even
more powerful.

This time there may have been no great clinical results, but "for me the import of this study is
not the clinical results but the fact that we were able to perform this very complex procedure in
a feasible way," added Stadtmauer.

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