Researchers at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, have discovered a way of using gene-editing technology to eliminate cervical cancer tumours.
The study, which was carried out on mice, could place Australia as the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer.
In the research, published in the journal Molecular Therapy, the scientists injected CRISPR-Cas9, a gene-editing tool used to cut away precise elements of the DNA and correct mutations into the bloodstream of lab rats with the use of nanoparticles.
According to ABC, the nanoparticles thereafter, searched for the cancer-causing gene E7, cut the gene in half, and caused it to be misread and stop being made.
After the experiment, the mice were treated and, according to the researchers, also reported a 100 percent survival rate.
Nigel McMillan, lead researcher of the study and director of infectious disease and immunology at The Menzies Health Institute Queensland, said the method is the first cancer cure using the technology.
“This is the first cure for any cancer using this technology,” McMillan said.
“This is like adding a few extra letters into a word so the spell checker doesn’t recognize it anymore. The cancer must have this gene to produce, once edited, the cancer dies.”
The lead researcher said it had been a five-year research project.
“We looked for lots of markers, inflammation, and damage, but they were perfectly fine, so this is very exciting. There are still many steps to go through before we get to the clinic stage, but I think this really proves that gene editing is going to be proved to be useful,” McMillan added.
While the researchers claimed that other cancers can be treated once they know the right genes, they added that the team would work towards a human trial, having applied for a grant to commence procedures to that effect over “the next five years.”
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