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Does CRISPR-Cas9 treatment cause DNA damage in cancer cells?

Many standard chemo and radio cancer therapies kill cancer cells by causing high levels of DNA damage. Unfortunately, they also cause damage to some normal cells which is why many of these drugs have unpleasant side effects. We have observed that CRISPR-Cas9 treatment of cancer cells de-stabilizes chromosomes causing changes in the number, loss of large and small fragments, and rearrangements. These changes have not been observed at the same level in normal cell types.

We would like to explore this in detail and work out whether and how CRISPR-Cas9 can be used to kill cancer cells without affecting normal cells. We plan to combine CRISPR. We plan to treat colorectal cancer cells which already have unstable chromosomes with different levels of CRISPR-Cas9, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy drugs or radiation treatment. We will compare their survival with normal cells and investigate the levels of DNA damage and chromosome instability in detail. We hope that this research could uncover new possibilities for the development of CRISPR-Cas9 as a cancer therapy.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Annabelle Lewis
Dr Annabelle Lewis - I am a lecturer in biomedical sciences and run a research laboratory. My research interest is cancer genetics and gene regulation, focusing on colorectal cancer. We use cell lines and animal models to study how common variants in the human genome affect the expression of key cancer genes, and increase the risk of an individual developing cancer.

Related Research Group(s)


Genome Engineering and Maintenance - Diverse research network focused on molecular, cellular, organismal and computational aspects of genome biology.

Partnering with confidence

UKRI Research England

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 21/11/2023