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Doctors safely use CRISPR on cancer patients

A researcher performs a CRISPR/Cas9 process at the Max-Delbrueck-Centre for Molecular Medicine.
A researcher performs a CRISPR/Cas9 process at the Max-Delbrueck-Centre for Molecular Medicine. Photo: Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Three cancer patients in the U.S. were the first to be safely injected with the gene editing tool CRISPR as a form of immunotherapy to fight their illness, AP reports.

Reality check: It's too soon to know whether the treatment will help, doctors say. The patients, who all failed multiple standard treatments, had varying results after two to three months.

  • Two of the patients have multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, and the third has a sarcoma, cancer that forms in connective or soft tissue.
  • The treatment deletes three genes that may be stopping the patients' cells from attacking the disease, and then adds ones to help them fight their cancer.
  • 15 more patients will receive the treatment and doctors will gauge its safety and efficacy.

The bottom line: Researchers are hoping to use CRISPR to treat some genetic diseases, including its progress in treating sickle-cell anemia.