Cancer is the leading cause of death

Cancer is a disease which is characterized by out-of-control cell growth. Cells become more abnormal; old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed (What is Cancer, 2015). This results in growths called malignant tumors which cause cancer. Scientists and researchers are working constantly to develop the best and most efficient tools to combat the disease. Recent studies have shown that CRISPER, a tool used to edit genomes could potentially be the solution to preventing cancer.Background:Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. (WHO, 2017). One quarter of all Canadians are expected to die of the disease. Most cancers are caused  by known carcinogens such as smoking or exposure to harmful chemicals. (Canadian Cancer Society, 2018).  Cancer is caused by multiple genetic and epigenetic alterations that drive malignant cell proliferation  (Yi et Al., 2016). Mutations in the genes stop the cell from going through the cell cycle properly (Yi et Al., 2016). Over the last several decades, remarkable progress has been made in cancer therapy which helps to control the growth of a cancerous mass. Chemotherapy is a drug-based treatment that combats cancer throughout the entire body. Radiation beams with sub-millimeter precision are also used to target tumors (Levine, 2017). In addition to this, immunotherapy treatments which use monoclonal antibodies can be used to block or target an abnormal gene or protein in a cancer cell. However, these methods tend to be quite expensive. Solution:The recent discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 system has provided a rapid, efficient and inexpensive method to characterize gene function (Sayin et al., 2017). The system consists of two key molecules; the enzyme Cas9 as well as gRNA. Cas9 can cut the two strands of DNA at a specific location in the genome, so nucleotides can be added or removed (What is CRISPR-Cas9, 2016). The second molecule is a piece of guide RNA which consists of a small piece of pre-designed RNA sequence within a longer RNA scaffold (What is CRISPR-Cas9, 2016). The system could be used to directly target cancer cell genomic DNA. By using the system, editing of the SNPs associated to cancer could restore proper gene components as well as gene functions. CRISPR/Cas9 has the potential to revolutionize cancer therapy though a precise mechanism that alters the mutations associated with cancer. As of now, trials have only been conducted on bacteria, plants and mice. Although considerable progress has been made, there is still significant amount of research that must be completed before CRISPR/Cas9 could be used as a strategy to target cancer genes in humans (Yi & Li, 2016). The potential impact that the system could have on an individual’s immune responses remains unclear.  Thus numerous trials must be conducted on animals in order to minimize the potential risks. In addition, this method involves the modification of the human genome, which continues to raise ethical questions across the world.Conclusion: The future of cancer treatment looks promising with the use of CRISPR/Cas9 as a method of immunotherapy. The ability to edit and correct genomic DNA in cancer cells using this system would be revolutionary in creating personalized therapy for each cancer patient.

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