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Biotechnology

The US government wants to speed gene-editing therapies to patients

January 24, 2018

The National Institutes of Health wants to help researchers cure inherited diseases using genome-editing technology.

New funding: The US biomedical research agency says it is dedicating $190 million over the next six years to researchers conducting gene-editing experiments, such as those with the powerful CRISPR technique.

The background: As the US moves closer to using CRISPR in humans, NIH is making special funds available as a way to “dramatically accelerate the translation of these technologies to the clinic for treatment of as many genetic diseases as possible,” says director Francis Collins.

No designer babies: NIH is only accepting proposals for studies that involve making edits to human somatic cells, the nonreproductive cells of the body. By law, the agency is forbidden from funding research that involves modifying embryos, which would result in edited DNA being passed down to the next generation.

Deep Dive

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Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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