Somatic Genomic Editing Will Enable Precision Tumor Modeling and “Greatly Accelerate the Pre-Clinical Testing of Novel Targeted Therapies” for Cancer

Researchers from the Seve Ballesteros Foundation-CNIO Brain Tumor Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have developed an extremely powerful and versatile mouse model that will improve cancer research and accelerate pre-clinical testing of novel targeted therapies. Their work was published online on April 13, 2018 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “Somatic Genome Editing with the RCAS-TVA-CRISPR-Cas9 System For Precision Tumor Modeling.” “A current high priority in cancer research is to functionally validate candidate genetic alterations that are relevant for cancer progression and treatment response. In order to do so, it is essential to develop flexible models that can speed up the identification of cancer driver genes among the large number of passenger alterations,” state the authors. In order to achieve this, researchers led by Dr. Massimo Squatrito combined two technologies - the genome editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 and the gene delivery system RCAS/TVA - to generate a mouse model that brings the possibility of mimicking the genetic complexity of cancer. Dr. Barbara Oldrini and Dr. Álvaro Curiel-García, co-lead authors in the study, used this novel model to recapitulate some of the genetic alterations found in gliomas. In particular, they studied a gene fusion encoding a family of kinases called NTRK and a common mutation of the BRAF gene, both identified not only in glioma, but also in other tumor types. "What we have shown using this new model is that we now have the ability to generate specific complex genetic alterations and to study how they contribute to glioma pathogenesis,” explains Dr. Squatrito.
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