A lung cancer diagnosis is serious business. But in China, scientists are using a revolutionary technique to treat lung cancer:
Chinese scientists are preparing to set a world’s first by treating lung cancer patients with immune cells modified using the CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing technique. The team of clinical researchers hopes the modified immune cells will attack the cancer cells, offering a treatment option in cases where other conventional treatments have failed. “This technique is of great promise in bringing benefits to patients, especially the cancer patients whom we treat every day,” said lead oncologist Lu You from Sichuan University’s West China Hospital in an article published recently in Nature.
Lu and his team plan to extract T-cells from cancer patients and modify them using the CRISPR–Cas9 technique. The technology will knock out the PD-1 gene, which sits on the surface of the T-Cell and prevents the cell from attacking healthy cells that have the companion PD-L1 protein. Many cancer cells also express this standard PD-L1 marker as a defensive mechanism to prevent the body’s T-cells from attacking them. By disabling this PD-1 gene and removing the PD-1 protein, the modified T-cell will be free to destroy the cancer cells.