It is a scary story that human manipulates the genes in our bodies. However, upcoming 2017, it seems that it is the time to expand our views and ideas about genetic manipulation.
Last year, the girl named Layla was a child who suffered from leukemia. But after injecting a healthy modified immune cell by genome editing technique, she was cured from leukemia.
Layla’s news is just one case. If the genome editing works well to the good way, we can continue to save a life.
Genome editing is a new technique that uses a mechanism called CRISPR to modify a gene to the desired one. Crisper technology is based on a bacterial immune system and in easy words; it acts like a gene scissors. You can think of using this gene scissors to replace any part of the gene that is likely to become diseased into a healthy gene. Researchers studying the CRISPR have found that this technique is effective, so it has already been tried for the first time in China to apply it to the human body.
The first attempted gene by CRISPR technique was named PD-1 (Programmed cell death protein 1). This is a gene that plays a role in the immune cells of cancer patients, and the role of PD-1 in the immune cells of cancer patients is turned off. By eliminating PD-1 that does not play this role with genomic editing technology, PD-1 is able to play a role in the immune cell and further restore immune function in the human body. Therefore, researchers hope that the patient’s immune system will be stronger.
According to Nature study, ten patients with lung cancer in China have participated genome editing treatment on October 28 2016, and expect the results of this experiment in 2018. Now these groups are monitoring safe procedures continuously.
The United States will soon begin its own experiments. They are planning combination of tumor targeting gene and PD-1 edited genes which are similar to those described above. Hopefully, this combination will produce better results.
If the trial is successful in the United States, this technology will be applied not only to cancer patients but also to a multidisciplinary disease field.