Transforming genes using CRISPR can cause cancer, warn genetics

Transforming genes using CRISPR can cause cancer, warn genetics

Scientists at the University of Tel Aviv warn that although the method of editing the CRISPR genome is very effective, it is not always safe. In a paper published in Nature Biotechnology, they have shown that sometimes the restructuring of DNA fragments jeopardizes the stability of the genome, which may subsequently cause cancer.

In order to study the extent of potential damage, genetics replicated the first clinical trials in which CRISPR/Cas9 was used for human treatment. This study was conducted in Pennsylvania, and scientists then used redacted T cells for cancer therapy.

In their work, researchers from Israel splintered the T-lymphocytes genome in exactly the same locations as in the Pennsylvania experiment, chromosomes 2, 7 and 14 of the 23 pairs of chromosomes of the human genome. By sequencing the RNA, they analysed each cell separately and measured the expression levels of each chromosome in each of them. The results showed a significant loss of genetic material in some cells.

For example, when chromosomes 14 were split, about 5% of the expression cells in this chromosome were insignificant or absent at all. When all chromosomes were split simultaneously, the damage increased: 9%, 10% and 3% of the cells failed to repair the chromosome gap of 14, 7 and 2 respectively.

In general, our results show that more than 9% of the T-cells edited with the CRISPR technology have lost a significant amount of genetic material, which could lead to the destabilization of the genome, which could contribute to the development of cancer.

Scientists stress that they do not consider it necessary to completely prohibit the use of the new technology, but call for caution in its use. CRISPR has shown potential effectiveness in the treatment of many diseases, and the same genetic team has recently introduced a method for using CRISPR for HIV treatment. Researchers believe that understanding potential side effects will help to refine technology.

In the past, Hytech spoke about the technology of a safe CRISPR, which uses a safer approach to correct genetic defects.