Australian researchers say they cured cervical cancer in mice

Henrietta Strickland
October 10, 2019

Queensland researchers are hailing a world-first "cure" for cervical cancer, having killed off tumours in mice using CRISPR gene-editing technology.

As the studies into varies types of cancer continue, hopefully researchers and scientists will continue to make giant breakthroughs.

If that seems to you like too much scientific language, you're not alone.

These nanoparticles were used to target a gene called E7.

Once CRISPR-Cas9 is delivered to tumour cells by nanoparticles injected into the bloodstream, it searches out the E7 gene and then acts like a pair of molecular scissors, cutting the gene in two. That means that when the cell naturally regenerates it doesn't recognise the cancerous cells, meaning that a healthy cell is then generated.

Professor McMillan attributed the team's "lightbulb moment of discovery" to inquisitive student Luqman Jubair, a medic from Iraq who, once qualified, wants to work in genetic therapies in Australia.

Prof. McMillan compared the nanoparticles to a computer spellchecker.

Although CRISPR was developed by overseas scientists, the Griffith researchers have adapted its use to treat cervical cancer in an animal model.

Nigel McMillan explained: "This is like adding a few extra letters into a word so the spell checker doesn't recognise it anymore". "Other cancers can be treated once we know the right genes".

"We looked for lots of markers, inflammation and damage, but they were perfectly fine, so this is very exciting".

A nurse inspects a HPV vaccine (stock photo).

"In our study, the treated mice have 100 per cent survival and no tumours", Professor McMillan said.

McMillan says while there are still many steps to go through, he has applied for a grant to begin human trials within five years.

In scientific terms, that is actually pretty damn quick.

Griffith University researchers made the breakthrough using new gene editing technology.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that some 79 million Americans are living with HPV, which is the cause of 99.7 percent of all cervical cancer, according to McMillan.

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