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Lizzie Wright, Ph.D.

Recent Posts by Lizzie Wright, Ph.D.

August 11, 2017

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Categories: Health

Med-Sci Matters by Dr. Lizzie

In this week’s bumper edition, we discuss the latest CRISPR developments in human embryos and pig organs, a computer chip that can reprogram skin cells, new insights into Parkinson’s Disease, questions about antibiotic treatment guidance and how transparent pharma companies are being with clinical trial data. Inherited cardiac disease deleted from embryos In another step forward for CRISPR, the gene editing tool was successfully used to remove a faulty gene in embryos that would otherwise result in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart can suddenly stop beating. The study, published in Nature, used IVF with mutated sperm and healthy eggs. CRISPR was used to disrupt the faulty gene from the sperm, which was then replaced by the healthy version of the gene from the egg following fertilization. CRISPR normally detects a gene sequence and replaces it, so this method is slightly different as it caused the gene to instead be identified as faulty and thus the healthy copy was selected instead. The results were successful in 72% of the embryos, meaning the faulty gene was completely eradicated from all future generations. “Mosaicism,” whereby embryos contain cells with both mutated and non-mutated genes, was avoided, demonstrating the need toContinue Reading

July 19, 2017

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Categories: Health

Med-Sci Matters by Dr. Lizzie

In this week’s edition of Med-Sci Matters, we discuss the FDA’s green light for CAR-T therapy, how house dust could be contributing to weight gain, how smartphones are providing insights into global activity levels and new data showing that artificial sweeteners could lead to increased health risks. Edging closer to the first CAR-T approval 019 is now likely to be the first CAR-T therapy approved for use and could pave the way for a new era in personalized immunotherapy. CAR-T, which stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy, involves removing T-cells from a patient’s blood, genetically engineering them to attack specific antigens on the tumor, and then infusing them back into the patient to specifically target the immune system against the cancer. Patients in the Novartis trial showed a high rate of remission; however trials from other companies investigating CAR-T therapies have been plagued with set-backs, resulting in high numbers of patient deaths and trials being shut down. Apart from potential long-term safety issues, the logistical issues of collecting and engineering each individual patient’s cells prior to reinfusing may be a challenge. The positive vote was welcomed by several companies working in the field and heralded as a major breakthroughContinue Reading