Reprogramming the anti-tumor immune response via CRISPR genetic and epigenetic editing

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Precise clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-mediated genetic and epigenetic manipulation of the immune response has become a promising immunotherapeutic approach toward combating tumorigenesis and tumor progression. CRISPR-based immunologic reprograming in cancer therapy comprises the locus-specific enhancement of host immunity, the improvement of tumor immunogenicity, and the suppression of tumor immunoevasion. To date, the ex vivo re-engineering of immune cells directed to inhibit the expression of immune checkpoints or to express synthetic immune receptors (chimeric antigen receptor therapy) has shown success in some settings, such as in the treatment of melanoma, lymphoma, liver, and lung cancer. However, advancements in nuclease-deactivated CRISPR-associated nuclease-9 (dCas9)-mediated transcriptional activation or repression and Cas13-directed gene suppression present novel avenues for the development of tumor immunotherapies. In this review, the basis for development, mechanism of action, and outcomes from recently published Cas9-based clinical trial (genetic editing) and dCas9/Cas13-based pre-clinical (epigenetic editing) data are discussed. Lastly, we review cancer immunotherapy-specific considerations and barriers surrounding use of these approaches in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-606
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Therapy - Methods and Clinical Development
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2021


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