A Promising Future
In a recent development, CRISPR Therapeutics, the subsidiary of CRISPR AG, has signed onto a two-year research collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), to research the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in T cell cancer therapies.
This comes on the heels of a seemingly-endless list of advances. Two weeks ago, the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool successfully removed genetic disorders from human embryos and additionally, successfully extracted HIV from a living organism. It was used to develop semi-synthetic organisms, targeted the "command center" of cancer, and even coerced superbugs to kill themselves on the genetic level.
Fighting Cancer With Gene Editing
The application of CRISPR/Cas9 to T cell therapies is expected to address unmet needs in hematologic and solid tumors, masses which from the cells are typically extracted and 'programmed' to recognize and attach to. Leading the scientific work at MGH is the director of the Cellular Immunotherapy Program, Marcela V. Maus, MD, Ph.D. Anticipating the benefits of the collaboration, head of Immuno-oncology Research and Translation at CRISPR Therapeutics, Jon Terrett, Ph.D., told GlobeNewswire:
It is becoming increasingly clear that CRISPR/Cas9 can play a major role in enabling the next generation of T cell therapies in oncology. By combining our gene editing capabilities with Dr. Maus’ pioneering expertise in T cell therapy, we hope to accelerate our progress toward making these therapies a reality for patients suffering from cancer.
This partnership is CRISPR Therapeutics' latest step toward advancing immuno-oncology. Terrett was brought aboard in February of this year as the company's leader in this regard.
We have already seen the profound benefit that T cell therapies can have for certain patients with a specific set of tumor types. Now the potential with gene editing, and specifically CRISPR/Cas9, exists to create improved versions of these cells that may work for a wider variety of patients with a more diverse set of tumor types. I’m glad to see the commitment CRISPR Therapeutics is making to this area, and am excited to collaborate with them.
Expect to see CRISPR/Cas9 expand its applications to include a more diverse spectrum of tumor types and molecular targets, as the revolutionary medical technology carries on.