A brand new gene editing technology known as base editing has successfully managed to heal a teenager from cancer.
Alyssa, a 13 year old suffering from leukemia that was resistant to treatment, was in remission only a month after the technology was used and months later, she continues to do really well.
This treatment is a modification of CAR (chimeric antigen receptor), also referred to as T-cell therapy, the sole difference being that instead of using CRISPR gene editing to change immune cells, the medical experts now use the much more precise “base editing” to alter healthy immune cells from donors.
As one University College London press release explains, after the cells are edited, they are given to the patient in order to “rapidly find and destroy the T-cells in the body, including leukemic T-cells.”
Johns Hopkins University oncology professor Dr. Otis Brawley shared via CNN that base editing even has the potential of being expanded to treat other serious illnesses.
“That technology is sure to help us with a lot of other diseases. For instance, we have already used CRISPR to heal sickle cell anemia. We may very well be able to also use this gene editing to easier, better and less expensively cure sickle cell anemia,” Brawley shared.
Going back to Alyssa’s case, it is safe to say that base editing has saved the life of this UK teen, diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia last year.
Soon after being diagnosed, Alyssa received both chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant but the cancer remained.
In May, she was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London where she became the first person ever to get infused with the life changing base editing immune cells that thankfully showed results.
That being said, after only a month of treatment, Alyssa was in remission.
To restore her immune system, she also received a second bone marrow transplant.
It’s been six months since and reports say the first ever base editing patient in the world is doing well!
In a hospital news release, Alyssa made it very clear that she had no hesitation as far as trying this new therapy was concerned.
“Once I do it, people will know what they need to do so doing this will help people – of course I am going to do it,” the young girl stated.
The amazing results have been presented at The American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting in hopes of getting to enroll 10 or more patients in a follow-up trial therapy.
Since base editing is a more precise gene editing technology than CRISPR, there are even fewer risks and side effects to worry about.
The leader of the program and a professor of cell and gene therapy, Waseem Qasim, says that “It is our most sophisticated cell engineering and paves the way for other treatments and better futures for sick children.”