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November 10, 2017

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Breakthrough in pediatric cancer fight

A team of medical researchers from the Hong Kong Baptist University has successfully developed a targeted delivery system for a genome editing technology to battle osteosarcoma, a pediatric cancer, the university said yesterday.

Their research paper — on the targeted delivery of CRISPR/Cas9, a budding technology for editing genes in living organisms, to edit vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) in combating osteosarcoma — was recently published in the Biomaterials international journal.

CRISPR/Cas9 holds tremendous promise for cancer treatment. However, a major bottleneck for achieving the therapeutic potential of CRISPR/Cas9 is the lack of an in vivo targeted delivery system.

The HKBU team has achieved a breakthrough in resolving the problem by developing an aptamer-functionalised delivery system for CRISPR/Cas9 with the aim of treating osteosarcoma.

The research team is led by Professor Lyu Aiping, dean of the School of Chinese Medicine, and Professor Zhang Ge, director of the school’s Technology Development Division.

“Osteosarcoma, a very common primary malignant bone tumor in children and adolescents, is mainly treated by surgery and chemotherapy, but the five-year post-surgery
survival rate is a mere 5 percent to 20 percent,” said Prof Zhang.

“Aptamers which are single-stranded oligonucleotides and can specifically recognize target cells have been widely used for in vivo targeted delivery of therapeutics. VEGFA has been reported to be a novel therapeutic target for OS.”


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