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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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Can anti-aging breakthroughs add 10 healthy years to the human life span? The CEO of OpenAI is paying to find out.

Forget designer babies. Here’s how CRISPR is really changing lives

The gene-editing tool is being tested in people, and the first treatment could be approved this year.

Neuroscientists listened in on people’s brains for a week. They found order and chaos.

The study shows that our brains exist between chaos and stability—a finding that could be used to help tweak them either way.

More than 200 people have been treated with experimental CRISPR therapies

But at a global genome-editing summit, exciting trial results were tempered by safety and ethical concerns.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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