Skip to Content

Reports suggesting that CRISPR could cause cancer dinged the stock prices of the big three gene editing companies: Editas Medicine, CRISPR Therapeutics, and Intellia Therapeutics all fell by 10 percent or more.

The findings: CRISPR is all about cutting DNA—but cells don’t like that very much. Two papers in the journal Nature Medicine (here and here) found that the damage cause by CRISPR can kill cells or stop them from growing.

The problem: CRISPR is a lot less likely to kill cells with defective versions of a gene called p53, whose anticancer role has led some to call it the guardian of the genome. In short, CRISPR could give a survival advantage to cells likely to turn cancerous, according to Stat.

The upshot: The new findings could help explain why the U.S. Food & Drug Administration placed a planned human study by CRISPR Therapeutics on hold in May. That company has hoped to use CRISPR as a gene therapy to treat sickle-cell disease.


Deep Dive


Sam Altman invested $180 million into a company trying to delay death

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.

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.

Three-parent baby technique could create babies at risk of severe disease

The approach was designed to prevent mitochondrial disease, but new evidence shows it might not work as planned.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.