A group of scientists have discovered a method which they called a “more elegant chemotherapy” that can accurately target cancerous cells in a first in the battle against the disease.
The research, which is the first of its kind, successfully killed cancerous cells while leaving healthy ones around it using a technique which relies on DNA editing tools.
The technology was tested on mice and could be used on humans as soon as within the next two years, the scientists said.
According to the Times of Israel, Professor Dan Peer, a cancer expert from Israel’s Tel Aviv University, explained that there are no side effects and they believe that a “cancer cell treated in this way will never become active again. This technology can extend the life expectancy of cancer patients and we hope, one day, cure the disease.”
The scientists claim that it is the first time in the world that Crispr, a genome editing technology, which works by cutting out a section of DNA, has been effectively used to treat cancer in an animal. Crispr’s founder Jennifer Doudna has been awarded the 2020 Nobel prize in Chemistry alongside Emmanuelle Charpenter.
Professor Peer explained that if this technology is used then within three treatments “we can destroy a tumour” as it can “physically cut the DNA in cancerous cells, and those cells will not survive.”
He admitted the technology needs to be “further developed”, but said the key point from the current study is that they have shown that it can “kill cancer cells”.
The scientists noted that mice with cancer who received the treatment had double the life expectancy and their survival rate was 30 per cent higher compared to the control group. Professor Peer highlighted that once adapted for humans, this treatment could be highly personalised and customised to each patient given, as a general injection or an injection directly into the tumour.