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Genome-editing tool may increase cancer risk: Study

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Therapeutic use of a popular technique may inadvertently increase the risk of cancer, according to a study.

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and the in Finland say that more studies are required in order to guarantee the safety of these 'molecular scissors' for gene-editing therapies.

CRISPR-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.

These precise 'molecular scissors' can be used to correct faulty of DNA and are currently being used in clinical trials for in the US and

"CRISPR-is a powerful tool with staggering therapeutic potential," said Bernhard Schmierer, a at

"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 such as sickle cell anaemia, researchers said.

The new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, found that therapeutic application of the may, in fact, increase the risk of

In one of the studies, scientists found that use of CRISPR-in human cells in a laboratory setting can activate a protein known as p53, which acts as a cell's 'kit' for DNA breaks.

Once active, p53 reduces the efficiency of CRISPR-Cas9 Thus, cells that do not have p53 or are unable to activate it show better

However, lack of p53 is also known to contribute to making cells grow uncontrollably and become cancerous.

"By picking cells that have successfully repaired the damaged gene we intended to fix, we might inadvertently also pick cells without functional p53," said from

"If transplanted into a patient, as in for inherited diseases, such cells could give rise to cancer, raising concerns for the safety of CRISPR-based gene therapies," Haapaniemi said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 13:15 IST