Therapeutic use of a popular gene editing technique may inadvertently increase the risk of cancer, according to a study.
Researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and the University of Helsinki in Finland say that more studies are required in order to guarantee the safety of these 'molecular scissors' for gene-editing therapies.
CRISPR-Cas9 technique is a molecular machine first discovered in bacteria that can be programmed to go to an exact place in the genome, where it cuts the DNA.
"Like all medical treatments however, CRISPR-Cas9-based therapies might have side effects, which the patients and care-givers should be aware of," Schmierer said.
New trials are expected to be launched soon to treat inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia, researchers said.
However, lack of p53 is also known to contribute to making cells grow uncontrollably and become cancerous.
"If transplanted into a patient, as in gene therapy for inherited diseases, such cells could give rise to cancer, raising concerns for the safety of CRISPR-based gene therapies," Haapaniemi said.
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