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Trial underway for possible cancer cure

A bag of CRISPR-edited T-cells to be administered to a patient at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia Associated Press/Penn Medicine

Trial underway for possible cancer cure

Doctors have safely administered the first U.S. test of a cancer treatment made using the CRISPR gene-editing tool for human patients. It’s too soon to say whether it will cure the disease, the doctors said Wednesday, but cancer specialists said the results made them hopeful.

How does the treatment work? The doctors took immune cells from the patients’ blood. They deleted three genes that might have been hindering the cells’ ability to attack the cancer and added a new, fourth feature, a form of immunotherapy. The treatment does not change DNA inside the body, but it removes, alters, and returns cells that are supercharged to fight cancer. After two to three months, one patient’s cancer continued to worsen and another’s was stable. The study showed minimal and manageable side effects. The third patient was treated too recently to know how she’ll fare. The doctors plan to treat 15 more patients to assess the treatment’s safety and effectiveness.

Dig deeper: Read Sophia Lee’s interview with bioethicist William Hurlbut about less ethical uses of CRISPR.

Kent Covington

Kent is a reporter and news anchor for WORLD Radio. He spent nearly two decades in Christian and news/talk radio before joining WORLD in 2012. He resides in Atlanta, Ga.


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