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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


transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

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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