Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

CRISPR Proposal to Be Reviewed

A US National Institutes of Health safety committee will review a proposal next week from University of Pennsylvania researchers to use the genome-editing tool CRISPR as part of a cancer treatment, Technology Review reports. This, NIH's Carrie Wolinetz adds at the Under The Poliscope blog, would be the first-in-human use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology.

The UPenn researchers want to edit two genes within the T cells of cancer patients. One of these genes, Tech Review notes, is PD-1, which is involved in regulating immune response. With this gene turned off, T cells might be able to spot tumors that would otherwise escape their notice, it says. These edits, Wolinetz adds, would target myeloma, melanoma, and sarcoma tumor cells. But the changes could also affect the proper functioning of the immune system.

Such work has to first be approved by the Recombinant DNA Advisory committee (RAC), which was established in 1976 to oversee recombinant DNA experiments and ensure they abide by the NIH Guidelines, she writes. Those guidelines were revised earlier this year to change how human gene transfer protocols would be selected for review, Wolinetz says.

"Consideration of this study underlines the purpose of changing the RAC process: to better use the collective breadth of experience of the RAC members in reviewing gene transfer trials and novel technologies that pose unknown risks," she adds.