Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center preclinical researchers seek to marry CRISPR and immunotherapy to try and improve treatment for leukemia. Why? For years, doctors have been plagued by a lose-lose trade-off: a bull’s-eye for certain cancer-killing drugs also appears on some normal blood stem cells. So, hitting the bulls-eye means harming health and diseased cells alike, reports Fred Hutch News Service.
Recently, two Fred Hutch teams reported initial findings from the last chapter of their ongoing research. By editing genes with CRISPR, the researchers snipped the bull’s-eye—a tiny bit of protein called CD33—from human blood stem cells and transplanted them in mice. Thereafter, they utilized the immunotherapy drug called a bispecific antibody that roused the immune system to wide out acute myeloid leukemia tumor cells while sparing the edited cells.
Thee early results, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, suggest their editing strategy could someday help improve treatment for people wit AML reported Dr. Olivier Humbert, a staff scientists in the lab of Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem at Fred Hutch. Hubert noted, “Most drugs that target CD33 cause severe toxicity because they also target normal cells.” He continued, “Using CRISPR to protect these cells could lead to help broaden the use of CD33-directed immunotherapies against AML.”
Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem, Fred Hutch