CRISPR Reaches Human Trials
CRISPR is forging ahead towards use in humans. The first clinical trials in the US for the gene-editing technology have been approved by an advisory board to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study aims to improve the treatment of 18 people with cancer by performing three edits on T cells of the immune system that have been removed from the patients before infusing them back in each person (Reardon, 2016). The hope is that the modified T cells will be better able to target cancer cells and also more protected against cancer cells looking to disable them. The treatment is being tested on people with melanoma, sarcoma, or myeloma (Sifferlin, 2016).
Although the trial has gotten approval from the NIH, the researchers must still make their case to US regulators as well as review boards within the institutions. The University of Pennsylvania will be responsible for editing the cells and will work with centers in California and Texas to find patients (Reardon, 2016). The project, which does not have a budget itself yet, will be funded by a $250 million immunotherapy foundation started by Sean Parker, cofounder of Napster and former president of Facebook. Carl June, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania involved with the trial, hopes to start by the end of the year.
Reardon, S. (2016). First CRISPR clinical trial gets green light from US panel. Nature. Retrieved 23 June 2016 from http://www.nature.com/news/first-crispr-clinical-trial-gets-green-light-from-us-panel-1.20137
Sifferlin, A. (2016). First CRISPR Human Trial Approved in the U.S. TIME.com. Retrieved 23 June 2016 from http://time.com/4380352/crispr-human-trial-us/