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Broken DNA

A comprehensive study headed by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys has shown that gene editing—specifically gene knockout (KO)—using CRISPR-Cas9 technology can favor cells with mutated forms of p53 or KRAS genes linked to cancer. The researchers say the findings highlight the need to monitor patients undergoing CRISPR-Cas9-based gene therapy for cancer-related mutations.

“Our study shows that in many different cell types, CRISPR gene-editing can confer a selective advantage to cells harboring mutations in genes associated with cancer, such as p53 and KRAS,” said co-senior author Ani Deshpande, PhD, an assistant professor in the NCI-Designated Cancer Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys. “We have shown that when CRISPR-Cas9 is used to edit the genome, cells with cancer-associated mutations are likely to be selected to survive—and this is more widespread than scientists previously understood.”

Deshpande and colleagues reported on their studies in Nature Communications, in a paper titled, “A systematic genome-wide mapping of oncogenic mutation selection during CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing.”

CRISPR-Cas9 works by creating double-stranded DNA breaks at specific points in a DNA sequence, allowing scientists to target and edit... see more