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ASH 2020: Genome editing and cellular therapies show promise for treating blood disorders, cancers

Three studies presented during the 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition report promising results in the use of cutting-edge genome editing and cellular therapies for hard-to-treat blood disorders and cancers.

In the first study, researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 to treat two inherited blood disorders, beta thalassaemia and sickle cell disease (SCD). The trial, which demonstrated remarkable improvements in all seven participants, is the first time this revolutionary approach has been used successfully in these patient populations.

“Given that the only FDA-approved cure for sickle cell disease, a bone marrow transplant, is not widely accessible, having another curative option would be life-changing for a large number of the sickle cell disease population,” said press briefing moderator Dr Catherine Bollard, of Children’s National Research Institute and George Washington University.

“While longer follow-up data are needed, this study is extremely exciting for the field.”

The second two studies point to new opportunities to reach a broader patient population with chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy. While this cellular immunotherapy has dramatically improved outcomes for patients with some blood cancers, it does not work in all patients.

One of the new studies offers an explanation as to why some patients do not respond to CD19-CAR-T therapy and suggests a way to overcome this resistance.

The other study suggests CD19-CAR-T may be a viable option for some patients with high-risk non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have not responded to standard treatments.

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