TALENS is a form of gene editing that causes specific immune cells, known as T cells, to express proteins that target tumours. The new cancer treatment helped two children with leukaemia be disease-free for up to 18 months, new research reveals. One of the infants has shown no signs of the condition for 16 months, while the other has been in remission for a year-and-a-half, a new study found.
The youngsters received an immune-boosting treatment alongside a gene-editing technique, known as TALENS, that altered their Deoxy ribonucleic Acid (DNA)/genetic material.
Such DNA changes makes it easier to create immune cells that attach to, and destroy, tumours.
Yet, some experts argue it is unclear to what extent their remission is due to the new treatment and how much is the result of their previous chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. Some argue the technique CRISPR is more accurate to target cancer-causing genes. CRISPR works by cutting out a target area of DNA and replacing it with something else.
Cancer-causing genes can therefore be replaced with those that kill tumours.
Researchers from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London investigated a new cancer treatment in two infants with an aggressive form of leukaemia.
The youngsters had previously been treated with chemotherapy and received stem cell transplants.
The researchers made four DNA alterations on immune cells from donors and infused the cells into the patients.
Results revealed that both youngsters have been cancer-free for 16 and 18 months, respectively.
The findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.