Animal models are helpful in cancer research as – unlike studying the rogue cells in isolation in a dish – they provide an environment that allows tumour cells to behave more naturally. CRISPR is a genome-editing system used in nature by bacteria that’s been harnessed as a tool by researchers to alter targeted genes in the cells and organisms they’re studying. By introducing a change in the DNA, cancerous mutations can be caused. Pictured is a colon tumour created in mice using the CRISPR tool. With this model, the tumours were seen to more faithfully imitate aspects of the human disease, including tumour progression and metastasis [where cancerous cells break away from the tumour and spread to another part of the body; in this case, the liver]. This insight into how colon tumours progress will be advantageous in the hunt for new therapies.
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