A novel screening method using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology has revealed new drug targets that could potentially enhance the effectiveness of PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors, a promising new class of cancer immunotherapy.
The method, developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, uses CRISPR-Cas9 to systematically delete thousands of tumor genes to test their function in a mouse model. In findings published today by Nature, researchers led by pediatric oncologist W. Nick Haining, BM, BCh report that deletion of one gene, Ptpn2, made tumor cells more susceptible to PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors. Other novel drug targets are likely around the corner.
PD-1 inhibition “releases the brakes” on immune cells, enabling them to locate and destroy cancer cells. But for many patients, it’s not effective enough on its own.