• Question: Could C.R.I.S.P.R. be used to help cure or prevent cancer?

    Asked by Saxton Hale to Eoin, Ester, Ildiko, Natasha, Paul, Tom on 10 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Natasha Myhill

      Natasha Myhill answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      Yeah I think it probably could! CRISPR is an awesome technique that allows us to make very tiny, accurate changes in the DNA. A lot of cancers have a very specific, well known mutation in cells, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 in breast cancer. If you have inherited one of these mutations, you are more likely to develop cancer. We could one day maybe use CRISPR to edit these mutations to make them normal again.

    • Photo: Ildiko Somorjai

      Ildiko Somorjai answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      as Natacha and others have said, cancer is really a complicated disease. I definitely think you could learn how to target certain types of cancer cells though to “turn off” whichever genes are making them grow and invade tissues though

    • Photo: Ester Gil Vazquez

      Ester Gil Vazquez answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      Yes, I agree. There are two types of cancer: sporadic and hereditary. Sporadic cancer happens when we develop mutations for many different reasons (sun, smoking, diet, alcohol…) and these mutations change the way in which cells act: they grow, divide, become resistant to death, etc. However, some people are born with certain mutations that they carry all their lives and make it easier to develop specific cancers – these cases of cancer are called hereditary. I think hereditary cancers could benefit from CRISPR-Cas9: we could use it to edit the genome and undo the mutations that are making it easier for cancer to develop.