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Taking Cancer Genetic Instructions Apart Could Lead To New Treatments

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By using CRISPR, scientists have found a way to target the vulnerable genes in cancer and destroy them in the process. Chemotherapy might not be an option for cancer treatment in the near future.  ( Gerd Altmann | Pixabay )

Scientists have discovered a new way to fight cancer. By "dismantling" cancer to its genes, they are now able to specifically target the vulnerable cells.

Thirty types of cancer were used in the experiment, and scientists were able to disrupt nearly 20,000 genes in more than 300 lab-grown tumors.

Cancer Weak Spots

The results of the successful study were published Wednesday, April 10, on the online scientific journal Nature. It was through the efforts of the scientists at Wellcome Sanger Institute that the amazing breakthrough in cancer medicine was discovered. This includes Dr. Fiona Behan, who lost her mother after contracting cancer for the second time.

"This is so important because currently we treat cancer by treating the entire patient's body. We don't target the cancer cells specifically," says Dr. Behan in an interview with BBC.

"The information we have uncovered in this study has identified key weak-spots of the cancer cells, and will allow us to develop drugs that target the cancer and leave the healthy tissue undamaged."

Gene Editing Therapy

The scientists used a genetic technology called "CRISPR." It's a tool geneticists use to separate and manipulate DNA, the same thing that was used to re-engineer two babies in China in 2018.

In the case of the experiment, they dismantled 20,000 individual genes from more than 300 lab-grown tumors of 30 different cancers, such as colon, lung, pancreatic, and breast. By doing this, researchers were able to determine 6,000 vulnerable genes that were important for cancer to survive.

These results can be used to develop new medicine and drugs to specifically target those vulnerable genes, which can result in the obliteration of cancer.

Rapidly Mutating Cells

Cancer is the result of the mutation of our body's healthy cells, making them go haywire and cause tumors. In certain cases, tumors can be removed/reduced via surgery or radiation.

More commonly though, chemotherapy is used to combat cancer cells. This procedure is very traumatic for the human body, as it attacks the whole system rather than just the cancer. Through gene editing therapy, chemotherapy might not be an option in the near future, as there will be newly developed drugs to fight cancer.

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