Thursday, July 28, 2016

CRISPR Sounds like a Breath of Fresh Air for Cancer Patients

Even if I may not be an experienced biologist, or an expert on cancer treatment, the  CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing technique for treatment seems to bring high hopes to those suffering from cancer. The disease, which causes rapid cell division, is most often fought with the use of chemotherapy. While chemotherapy can be very effective in some patients, its reliability is not always clear-cut and consistent. Some patients find that their cancer can return after a period of time, even after the use of chemotherapy. Why does this happen? Some people speculate that it is a result of a number of cancer cells being left behind after chemotherapy, which then continue to rapidly divide and be found again in the body after a period of time. Others believe that it is a result of slower dividing cancer cells, which are not detected and go unnoticed, or that patients grow resistant to the chemotherapy after exposure. Regardless of the reasoning, we do know that chemotherapy cannot be a guaranteed cure. It can also have harmful side effects, causing pain for those affected and their loved ones.
Gene editing, in my personal (and unprofessional) opinion, is a tool that can have extremely useful purposes, including the treatment for cancer. By using CRISPR-Cas9, the effectiveness of attacking cancer cells can be much more reliable and powerful than  that of chemotherapy. What really stands out to me is the implementation of the PD-1 gene, which will help to prevent the damage of healthy cells from the immune system. This is where I find that it differs greatly from chemotherapy, which will damage both healthy and cancerous cells, leaving it to be a guessing game and a matter of hope for effectiveness.
Do I expect this to be the all end solution to cancer? As much as I would love to say so, I must disagree. I think this can be an extremely positive step in treatment, but it still leaves questions. One of my biggest concerns involves CRISPR editing the wrong genes at the wrong time, which was brought up in the article. How effectively can this be regulated, and exactly how damaging could it be to the patient? While I am aware that after testing and ensuring that the right genes will be edited, this possibility is still a concern that needs to be considered. With the testing beginning in August, it isn’t unreasonable to think that these issues and possibilities will be sorted out and discussed properly until they are perfected. Regardless of the chances, I have high hopes for these tests, and can only pray that they are as effective as it appears they will be. In the worst case scenario, they can still be valuable stepping stones for future treatment.

2 comments:

  1. I completely agree with your opinion of it being a big "guessing game". There are lots of things that could go wrong with this! In my opinion, I think there should be more research done before this is attempted. That could reduce the risk of error and lives that are risked could be saved. I also agree with your questioning of how effective this can be regulated. They did not really specify that in the article very much. I found in one of the papers I looked at that there is a possibility of it attacking the human body from the inside out. The dangers seem to be overpowering the pros of this experiment. Is there a possibility there are other proteins that could help this process or have smaller room for error? I agree 100% with all of your statements!!!

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  2. I agree with you and Brianna! The guessing game is too much of a big risk. I searched for a brief time and I couldn't find any articles talking about experimenting on animals (specifically for cancer). They have been successful with HIV, but that is very different from cancer in the way that cancer satellites to other more delicate parts of the body. HIV attacks T-Cells and cancer attacks all. The guessing game should not be a risk that we take.
    I do truly wish that this treatment works out for the better!!

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I'm Hannah and a big fan of mitochondria. This is my biology blog.