The Boomerang system: synthetic machine for cancer therapy
Despite recent treatment advancements, cancer is still a major cause of mortality worldwide. One of the fundamental problems preventing the development of effective therapy is the difficulty to target cancer cells exclusively.
In Boomerang, we're engineering a genetic device based on a simple concept of AND logic gate: the activation of our CRISPR/Cas9-based system is dependent on the existence of two cancer-specific promoters that control the expression of Cas9 and gRNA, and the combination of these two will occur only in cancer cells. CRISPR/Cas9 system allows several applications of Boomerang: 1) disruption of genes essential for cancer survival; and 2) activation of suicide genes, or color proteins for cancer cell detection (e.g., for complete surgical removal).
Our system can be potentially designed according to unique characteristics of a patient's tumor, paving the way to personalized medicine. We hope that our strategy will change the approach to cancer treatments.