What could go wrong with CRISPR on humans?

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Now that a federal biosafety and bioethics committee has approved what would be the first use of the trailblazing genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 in people, the obvious question arises: Could anything go wrong?

The purpose of such a Phase 1 clinical trial is to assess safety, so problems wouldn’t come as a total shock. The fact that the trial in cancer patients would be funded by the new cancer institute founded this year by tech mogul Sean Parker adds a wild card. Four potential snafus:

  1. CRISPR edits DNA it isn’t supposed to
  2. CRISPR hits its targets, but then genetic hell breaks loose
  3. The Energizer Bunny problem
  4. Dollars triumph over data

Soon after scientists reported in 2012 that CRISPR can edit DNA, experts raised concerns about “off-target effects,” meaning genes that scientists didn’t intend to change inadvertently got deleted or altered. In addition, scientists run the risk that virus-infected cells will keep cranking out the DNA-snipping Cas9 for 10 or 20 years.

Or, everything could go well and CRISPR cures cancer.

Read full, original post: They’re going to CRISPR people. What could possibly go wrong?

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