The first U.S. trial of CRISPR in humans has begun, NPR reported Tuesday. Two patients are currently being treated as part of a University of Pennsylvania study. Per NPR, both have difficult-to-treat forms of cancer and both have relapsed after regular treatments. As part of the trial, researchers are taking immune cells from the patients’ own bodies and editing them with CRISPR before putting them back in. The hope is that these edited cells will be better at identifying and attacking the cancer than their unaltered counterparts. According to the U.S. government clinical trial registry, the researchers are hoping to enroll 18 people in their study. But it’s not certain yet whether they’ll be approved for that many subjects, reports Jon Fingas for Engadget. Continue reading CRISPR is now being used on humans in the U.S.
For nearly two years now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been quietly giving the go-ahead to a handful of crops that have been genetically engineered using CRISPR. Editing the DNA of people and animals may be controversial, but when it comes to plants, the agency has taken the stance that as long as the gene-edited plants don’t include any foreign genetic material, CRISPR’d crops aren’t subject to special regulation. Continue reading The USDA Just Gave the Green Light to CRISPR’d Food
DNA is the code of life, and so advances that allow us to edit that code have unlocked vast potential, from simply editing away the buggy code of disease, to engineering animals that don’t spread illness, to, maybe one day in a distant future, creating so-called designer babies. But editing another essential molecular component of our biology—RNA, the messenger used by cells to turns DNA instructions into proteins—also holds great promise. Continue reading How Editing RNA—Not DNA—Could Cure Disease in the Future
The gene-editing technique CRISPR is often touted as an eventual cure-all for all that ails us, from fatal genetic diseases to food shortages. But when it comes to disease, it’s likely that it will have the most impact on disorders caused by mutations in one single gene. New research published this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that Huntington’s Disease may be a good candidate for a CRISPR cure.
When you think of gene editing technologies like CRISPR, you might imagine editing genes that relate to height, eye color, or our risk of getting certain diseases. But in truth, our DNA and RNA are full of countless proteins whose jobs have tiny yet important effects on our health. Some, for example, are heavily involved in the cell cycle, which regulates how all cells grow and divide—including cancer cells. A group of researchers out of the University of Rochester Medical Center recently used the CRISPR gene editing technique to try to eliminate one of the key proteins that allow cancer cells to proliferate out of control. While it’s just a first-of-its-kind study, the researchers think that in the future, it could be incorporated into a therapy to treat the disease.
A team of scientists have snipped away HIV DNA from the genome of live mice using a CRISPR system, and the rodents lived to (kinda) tell the tale. It’s still much too early to call the method a possible cure, but the fact that it worked on a living animal opens up a lot of possibilities. Will it work on other diseases, like cancer? Maybe, but that’s something scientists have to look into. These researchers headed by neurovirologist Kamel Khalili have been focusing on the use of the gene-editing technique to eliminate HIV for years. They successfully excised HIV DNA in live mice last year, but this round is a lot more thorough.