Chinese researchers will be starting a human trial investigating a CRISPR/Cas9-based therapy for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer next month, Nature News reports.
The trial, led by Sichuan University's Lu You, involves isolating T cells from patients who've failed chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments. The CRISPR/Cas9 approach will then be used to knock out the gene encoding the PD-1 protein that typically prevents the immune system from attacking healthy cells. Through this, the researchers hope to boost the patients' immune response to cancer. The trial, Nature News adds, is starting small, with just one patient and with low doses of altered cells and will gradually increase both the cohort size and dosage.
"Treatment options are very limited," Lu tells Nature News. "This technique is of great promise in bringing benefits to patients, especially the cancer patients whom we treat every day."
Approval for the trial, which the researchers received earlier this month, took about six months, Lu says. A similar trial in the US, led by the University of Pennsylvania's Edward Stadtmauer, has received approval from a National Institutes of Health advisory panel, but it also needs the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration and its institutional review board.