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What will give people the opportunity to edit their genes

Scientists from the IGI Institute, where CRISPR technology was developed, are now studying the features of not only sickle cell anemia, but also autoimmune, neurological diseases, cancer, COVID-19. It is planned that they can be cured with gene editing, as well as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease.

According to biochemist Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR can be used for the most part to prevent the onset of disease. True, there are several problems here.

First of all, it is ethics. Is this editing a god game? Next is the accuracy of editing. There is a possibility that a change in one part of the genome may lead to changes in another part of it. The worst-case scenario is that a person will develop cancer due to DNA damage.

Therefore, according to Dr. Ross Wilson, Director of Therapeutic Support at IGI, it is necessary to conduct clinical trials that prove the safety of the technology.

IGI employees are also working on CRISPRoff technology. It will make it possible to “turn off” a particular gene in a person without “cutting” the DNA chain. It is expected that the risk of unpleasant consequences will be lower in this case than with CRISPR.

But there is one very important problem that can become a serious obstacle to the spread of treatment with gene editing. This is the cost of therapy. Jennifer Doudna fears that technology will be available only to the “select” people, which will exacerbate the gap between the poor and the rich.

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