CRISPR: The first patient treated in China

Publié le 29 Nov, 2016

A Chinese team led by oncologist Lu You at the University of Sichuan, injected a lung cancer patient with genetically modified cells using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique for the first time at the end of October.


 This clinical trial was approved by an Ethics Committee in July. The first injections scheduled for August were delayed because cell culture and proliferation took longer than anticipated.


 Scientists prepared this injection by extracting immune cells from the patient’s blood, then deactivating a gene in these cells using CRISPR-Cas9. The deactivated gene codes the PD-1 protein, which usually hampers a cell’s immune response. Cancers benefit from this function to proliferate. Cultured modified cells were then reinjected into the patient in the hope that these immune cells would “attack” the cancer cells. A second injection is included in the protocol.


 Nine other patients will be included in the trial and each one will receive two, three or four injections. This trial evaluates treatment safety: recipients will be followed up for six months by assessing any potential adverse reactions. Monitoring will then be extend to assess treatment efficacy.


Other oncologists remain cautious in terms of the outcome of the trial but agree that this is “a fascinating strategy”. In the United States, a somatic gene therapy trial is scheduled to start in early 2017 in an attempt to treat various forms of cancer. Other trials have been announced in Beijing for the treatment of prostate, bladder and kidney cancer pending validation and financing.

Nature, David Cyranoski (15/11/2016)

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