When targeting diseases, how worried should we be about CRISPR’s potential for gene-editing errors?

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Of all the big, world-remaking bets on the genome-editing tool known as Crispr, perhaps none is more tantalizing than its potential to edit some of humanity’s worst diseases right out of the history books.

The major concern is that an army of DNA-breaking enzymes might sometimes wander astray and cause unintended mutations in places it shouldn’t.

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Using a new method for measuring unplanned edits, a team of American, Chinese, and European scientists has found that the same base editor, widely in use by researchers today, actually messes up the genome at an eyebrow-raising rate.

Their report, published [February 28] in Science, claims a 20-fold increase in mutations over what would be expected in the normal course of cell division and repair in mouse embryos.

Related article:  Bipartisan congressional group urges FDA to develop 'workable' GMO, CRISPR-edited animal rules

The question on [researcher Steve]  Murray’s mind now is, how many errors are too many? Cells are prone to making their own mistakes—on the order of once every million to 100 million base pairs… . Does it matter if an overactive gene editor makes that number closer to one in 500,000? … What if the mistake in that one cell grows into a cancer? And if a patient is on death’s door, how much does it matter?

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Read full, original post: Gene editing is trickier than expected – but fixes are in sight

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