CRISPR could save the lives of sick children by tweaking the embryos of their siblings

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Image: Brain Friendly

[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.

Related article:  CRISPR-edited crops could help avoid famine as global food demand grows

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.

Read full, original post: Could editing the DNA of embryos with CRISPR help save people who are already alive?

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