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Gene-editing therapy may halt deadly breast cancer: study

27.08.2019, 19:19 22870
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital developed a tumor-target gene editing system encapsulated in gel that may safely and effectively halt the growth of a deadly breast cancer.
The study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences represented the first successful use of targeted CRISPR gene editing to halt growth of a triple-negative breast cancer tumor via injection into live, tumor-bearing mice, Xinhua reports.
Triple-negative breast cancer is a kind of highly aggressive, frequently metastatic cancer that accounts for 12 percent of all breast cancers.
The new system is non-toxic and utilizes antibodies to selectively recognize cancer cells while sparing normal tissues, according to the study.
Gene editing like CRISPR is a group of technologies that enables scientists to change an organism's DNA, allowing genetic material to be added, removed or altered at particular locations in the genome.
Experiments showed that the CRISPR system was able to home in on breast tumors and knock out a breast-cancer promoting gene with an editing efficiency of 81 percent in tumor tissue.
The approach suppressed tumor growth by 77 percent in the mouse model and showed no toxicity in normal tissues.
The researchers encapsulated the gene editing system inside a soft gel made up of nontoxic fatty molecules and hydrogels. The antibodies attached to the gel's surface could guide the CRISPR nanoparticles to the tumor site.
Because the particles are soft and flexible, they can efficiently fuse with the tumor cell membrane and deliver payloads directly inside the cell, according to the study.

Using a soft particle allows us to penetrate the tumor better, without side effects, and with bigger cargo," said the study's first author Guo Peng at Boston Children's Hospital.

Once inside the cell, the CRISPR system knocked out an oncogene called Lipocalin 2 that promotes breast tumor progression and metastasis.
The platform could also be adapted to treat pediatric cancers, and could be used to deliver conventional drugs, according to the researchers.
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