Using genome editing to treat chronic inflammation
Researchers from Duke University and Cytex Therapeutics have used CRISPR genome editing to trial a new strategy for treating chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with diseases such as arthritis. The inflammation is caused by an altered response to pro-inflammatory cytokines. Currently, the disease is often managed with anti-cytokine therapies. However, these have to be given in constant, high doses. This may cause side effects that include susceptibility to infections. Here, genome editing was used to modify stem cells to produce factors that dampen, or antagonise, the inflammation, only when there is inflammation present. Genes encoding antagonists of inflammation were integrated in the genome at a site that is known to be transcribed more actively during inflammation. Since the inflammation itself activates the anti-inflammatory factors, they are only present when needed. The current study took place in cartilage tissue derived from mouse stem cells. It is hoped that a similar strategy can eventually be used in humans as a "cellular vaccine" to treat autoimmune or inflammatory diseases without the side effects of constant anti-cytokine drugs.
The original article can be found here.