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Controversial CRISPR off-target effects study under investigation by Nature journal’s editors

| June 23, 2017
CRISPR dna editing
18747396 - dna molecule is located in front of a colored background abstract collage
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

A Nature journal has posted a editor’s note to a recent letter on potential unintended consequences of CRISPR gene editing…The original article, published on May 30 as a correspondence in Nature Methods, suggested that using CRISPR in mice can lead to unexpected mutations.

[T]he prospect of CRISPR causing widespread collateral genomic damage hurt the stock prices of Editas Medicine and Intellia Therapeutics, which are trying to develop CRISPR-based gene therapies. In response, researchers at both companies have written separate letters to the editor criticizing the methodology used in the paper.

Intellia CEO Nessan Bermingham has been the most forceful critic. [He stated,] “Given the issues around the design and interpretation I believe it is appropriate that the Nature Methods editorial board retract this paper.”

A Nature spokesperson [stated] that the editorial note [is] a response to “technical criticism raised in regard to this paper, and [the] editors are investigating this criticism.”

Study co-author Alexander Bassuk of the University of Iowa told Retraction Watch that his team was not expecting this kind of response.

“We were not thinking about industry at all. We simply made an unexpected observation using unbiased whole genome sequencing and wanted to share it with the research community.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Journal alerts readers to “technical criticism” of CRISPR study

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