Ziopharm Oncology Inc. (NASDAQ:ZIOP) recently published a document that describes genetic editing in humans in Scientific Reports, a publication of Nature Publishing Group. In the document, Ziopharm specifically talks about the editing of leukocyte antigen HLA found in hematopoietic stem cells.
Ziopharm’s genetic editing process as described in the publication offers hope in lifting some of the barriers in transplanting organs and other biological products.
Multiple factors presently limit biological transplantation. According to Ziopharm CEO Laurence Cooper, the ability to edit HLA marks a step forward in creating what can be termed universal biological products. That is a case where a single donor can donate to multiple recipients regardless of whether they are related or a match or not.
Ultimately, Ziopharm believes its HLA editing process could pave the way for off-the-shelf (OTS) therapies in the field of immuno-oncology. Broadening donor sources also means an expanded opportunity to save lives.
Donor matching challenge
It has always been a serious challenge trying to match donor hematopoietic stem cells with recipients. Sometimes the matching process is protracted. But Ziopharm is describing a process that could help put to rest all those challenges by allowing for smooth and faster transplanting of biological products.
What happens at the end of the day?
What Ziopharm is driving at is that it will be possible to harvest biological products from a small pool of donors and use them on an almost unlimited number of unrelated recipients.
If that can be done, then Ziopharm says patients from the minority racial groups could benefit immensely as they will be able to receive donation from outside their racial community. Additionally, editing of HLA for matching also creates the opportunity to have truly efficient OTS cells that can be deployed at any time.
Ziopharm’s genetic editing process could prove to be a great breakthrough.