Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Penn researchers show CRISPR-edited immune cells can survive and fight cancer after infusion into patients


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: February 12th, 2020

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are developing genetically edited immune cells that can persist, thrive and function months after a cancer patient receives them.

The research team has shown that cells derived from three cancer patients were able to kill cancer months after the cells’ initial editing and infusion. It is the first U.S. clinical trial to test the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approach in humans.    

The Penn research team’s process involves removing three specific genes from patients’ T cells in order to allow the cells to seek out and destroy tumors more effectively. Once the genes are removed, a fourth genetic modification inserts a cancer-specific, synthetic T cell receptor that tells the edited T cells to target an antigen called NY-ESO-1.

“We can successfully perform multiple edits with precision during manufacturing, with the resulting cells surviving longer in the human body than any previously published data have shown,” says Carl June, professor at Penn and senior author of the study. “Thus far, these cells have shown a sustained ability to attack and kill tumors.”

Penn is conducting the ongoing study in cooperation with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and Tmunity Therapeutics.

June comments, “This is the first confirmation of the ability of CRISPR/Cas9 technology to target multiple genes at the same time in humans and illustrates the potential of this technology to treat many diseases that were previously not able to be treated or cured.”

Source: ScienceDaily

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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