[Tweaking an embryo’s DNA can] help save someone who is already alive.
Take the case of Jessica and Keith, a couple in the Bay Area with a 2 1/2-year-old daughter with Fanconi anemia, a genetic disease that leads to the failure of bone marrow to produce red and white blood cells and carries an increased risk of a number of cancers. The best treatment is a stem cell transplant from a sibling, and Jessica and Keith, who asked that their last name not be used, are now in the process of trying to have another child through IVF who can serve as a donor — what’s known as a savior sibling.
But making an embryo that’s both healthy and a suitable donor “match” for the older sibling is an exercise in long odds. It’s theoretically possible that altering an embryo’s DNA with the genome-editor CRISPR could improve the process.
He and Jessica understand it’s too soon to use CRISPR in such cases. The technology is not advanced or precise enough yet — and might never be.
But it’s another example of the ways in which genome-editing could help patients where other reproductive technologies cannot.
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