CRISPR gene editing technology potentially more damaging than previously known

Signal of change / CRISPR gene editing technology potentially more damaging than previously known

By Katrina Mataciunaite / 31 Jul 2018

A new study has been published in Nature journal showing that the gene editing Crispr-Cas 9 technology can cause a lot more damage to treated cells than previously thought. Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute found that a significant number of bases in the DNA of the Crispr’ed cells were being deleted or rearranged, and this was discovered even at locations away from the specific site of the alteration.

Two other recent studies found that cells which have been edited using Crispr technology are more likely to mutate and thus, form cancers. The findings suggest that Crispr-based therapy may have unintentional detrimental impacts on the patients treated: Crispr therapeutic companies will need to take these research findings into account. 

So what?

Following the release of the study findings, the value of the three main Crispr companies dropped by $300 million in 20 minutes suggesting that shareholder confidence in the gene editing technology has been significantly impacted.

What will the long-term impacts be on consumer confidence - and on those already treated? 

This will potentially slow the progress of gene therapy development and extend the time before it becomes available to treat serious illnesses in humans. Will delays ultimately save more lives?

Sources

https://www.sanger.ac.uk/news/view/genome-damage-crisprcas9-gene-editing-higher-thought

https://www.statnews.com/2018/07/16/crispr-potential-dna-damage-underestimated/ 

http://www.nature.com/articles/nbt.4192

https://newatlas.com/crispr-gene-editing-cancer-risk-p53-study/54992/

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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