Using gene editing, scientists have hoodwinked tumor cells into turning against their own kind.
To capitalize on that ability, researchers engineered these roving tumor cells to secrete a protein that triggers a death switch in resident tumor cells they encounter.
Cells on the move When circulating tumor cells (green) that are engineered with CRISPR to kill other tumor cells are injected into a mouse, they migrate over time to established tumor cells (red), as seen in these fluorescence photomicrographs.
Researchers used CRISPR to edit genes in these tumor cells to make them produce lots of S-TRAIL, and then set the cells loose on cancer cells that were sensitive to the deadly protein.
In another approach, scientists took glioblastoma cells that were sensitive to S-TRAIL’s effects, and cut out the genes that impart that sensitivity before giving the cells the genes to produce the protein.