Science & Technology
Man receives gene-edited blood in world first
By T.K. Randall
November 20, 2016 · 7 comments
The treatment involved modifying the patient's T cells. Image Credit: PD - John Keith
Researchers in China have injected a patient with cells modified using the CRISPR gene-editing technique.
The clinical trial has, for the first time, seen a human patient being injected with gene-edited cells as part of an effort to determine whether treatments of this kind are safe to use.
The recipient is one of ten individuals with terminal lung cancer currently enrolled on the trial.
The treatment works using a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR which makes it possible for researchers to directly target specific genes and remove or modify them as needed.
In this case, the team targeted a gene in the patient's T cells - a type of white blood cell which helps to protect the body by attacking other dangerous cells.
Cancer cells tend to be ignored by the T cells because they are produced by the host's own body, so by 'switching off' a protein which suppresses the T cells, the researchers are hoping to be able to encourage them to attack the patient's lung cancer far more aggressively.
Gene-editing has been considered something of a controversial practice so far because of the potential to create genetically enhanced humans and designer babies.
The medical applications of the technology however could ultimately save millions of lives.
Source: Popular Science
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