Immunotherapeutic CRISPR

A team from Yale University has developed one more application for CRISPR – direct therapeutic intervention for cancer lesions.

The method is called MAEGI, from multiplexed activation of endogenous genes as an immunotherapy. In it, viral vectors introduce CRISPR activation system (CRISPRa) into cancer cells. The activity of CRISPR stimulates the expression of various antigens – antibody generators, molecules at the surface of the cell, which are recognized by the immune system. As a result, the body more efficiently fights cancer, thanks to the wider pool of antigens.

Scientists tested MAEGI in mice, reducing their melanomas, breast cancer, and pancreatic tumors.

It is the molecular equivalent of dressing tumor cells in orange jump suits, allowing the immune system police to quickly find and eradicate the deadly cells. Once those cells are identified, the immune system immediately recognizes them if they show up in the future.

Sidi Chen

Publication: Guangchuan Wang, Ryan D. Chow, Zhigang Bai, Lvyun Zhu, Youssef Errami, Xiaoyun Dai, Matthew B. Dong, Lupeng Ye, Xiaoya Zhang, Paul A. Renauer, Jonathan J. Park, Li Shen, Hanghui Ye, Charles S. Fuchs & Sidi Chen (2019). Multiplexed activation of endogenous genes by CRISPRa elicits potent antitumor immunity. Doi:10.1038/s41590-019-0500-4.
Lead quote: Fong Chun Chan
Photo: Torsten Wittmann, Scripps Research Institute

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