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Scientists innovate with the use of a gene editing tool



(Newser)

Scientists report the first use of the CRISPR gene editing tool to try to cure a patient's HIV infection by providing modified blood cells to resist the AIDS virus. This gene editing tool has been used for a long time in research laboratories. A Chinese scientist was scorned last year when he revealed that he had used it on embryos that had led to the birth of binoculars. The edition of embryos is considered too risky, in part because the changes in DNA can be passed on to future generations. Wednesday's report in the New England Journal of Medicine, by different Chinese researchers, is the first published report on the use of CRISPR to treat a disease in an adult, where DNA modifications are limited to that person. The attempt has been successful in some respects but has failed to cure HIV, reports the AP.

Nevertheless, this shows that gene editing is promising and seems so far accurate and safe for this patient, said Dr. Carl June, a genetic expert at the University of Pennsylvania, who wrote a comment in the journal . "It's really good for the field," said June. The research was conducted openly with prior notification on a scientific registry and standard informed consent procedures. Some of these steps were missing or called into question in the work on embryos from last year. The editing of genes permanently modifies the DNA. CRISPR is a relatively new tool that scientists can use to cut DNA at a specific location. An encouraging result: several tests show that the edition did not have any unexpected effects on other genes. "They had a very innovative patient experience, and it was safe," said an expert with Johns Hopkins of Live Science.

(Read more CRISPR stories.)

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