The field of personalised medicine is moving quickly but may even be accelerating with researchers now combining new technologies.
An article in the journal Science has reported on researchers combining CRISPR and CAR-T cell therapies to treat three cancer patients. Health minister Greg Hunt retweeted a link to the article.
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/Cas9 gene editing) allows researchers to alter DNA sequences by extracting hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from the patient. The stem cells are edited to repair the underlying genetic mutation causing a disease and then re-infused into the patient as part of a stem cell transplant.
CAR-T therapies are manufactured for each individual patient using their own cells. During the treatment process, T cells are drawn from a patient’s blood and reprogrammed in the laboratory to create T cells that are genetically coded to recognise and fight the patient’s cancer cells and other B cells expressing a particular antigen.
Examples of CAR-T therapies include Novartis' KYMRIAH and Gilead's YESCARTA.
In the new research, Science said three patients received CRISPR-altered versions of their own T cells. The researchers said it is hoped the use of CRISPR could boost the efficacy of the CAR-T therapy.
The trial has not been successful in terms of patient outcomes but one of the researchers was reported to say it was driven to test the theory the two technologies could work together. In that respect, they said it succeeded.