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CRISPR/Cas9 May Aid Cancer Immunotherapy by Identifying Checkpoint Escapes

06:43 EDT 20 Jul 2017 | Genetic Engineering News

Checkpoint inhibitors, drugs designed to “release the brakes” on cancer-fighting immune cells, have shown promise in treating cancer patients, albeit a minority of cancer patients. To help checkpoint inhibitors help the immune system fight cancer, scientists are investigating combination treatments , such as pairings of the most potent checkpoint inhibitors and new drugs that could effectively shut down molecular pathways that serve as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) escape mechanisms. The trick, however, is to identify these molecular pathways. A new means of doing so has been demonstrated by scientists based at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. These scientists report that they have used CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice. Essentially, the scientists systematically screened for drug targets that could potentially enhance the effectiveness of PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors. The scientists, led by pediatric oncologist W. Nick ...

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