NPR

First U.S. Patients Treated With CRISPR As Gene-Editing Human Trials Get Underway

This could be a crucial year for the powerful gene-editing technique CRISPR as researchers start testing it in patients to treat diseases such as cancer, blindness, and sickle cell disease.
CRISPR-CAS9 gene editing technology allows scientists to make highly precise modifications to DNA. The technology is now starting to be used in human trials to treat several diseases in the U.S. Source: MOLEKUUL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The powerful gene-editing technique called CRISPR has been in the news a lot. And not all the news has been good: A Chinese scientist stunned the world last year when he announced he had used CRISPR to create genetically modified babies.

But scientists have long hoped CRISPR — a technology that allows scientists to make very precise modification to DNA — could eventually help cure many diseases. And now scientists are taking tangible first steps to make that dream a reality.

For example, NPR has learned that a U.S. CRISPR study that had in at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has finally started. A university spokesman Monday confirmed for the first time that two patients had been treated using CRISPR.

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