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First CRISPR Treatment Gets FDA Approval, Human Beings To Be ‘Programmable’ In Our Lifetimes?

Just like any technology or human being, this has the potential for massive good or massive evil—it all depends on how it is used.

CRISPR is a revolutionary new gene editing technology that allows us to edit our genes with precision. Think about Google Docs or Microsoft Word, CRISPR is almost like that but for the human genome, a gene-editing suite.

This technology can be used to cure diseases, ailments, and potentially all cancers by stemming the mechanisms that allow cancer cells to become metastatic and form tumors in the first place.

OR it can be used to usher in the Brave New World Aldous Huxley warned us about 100 years ago where people are manufactured according to certain specifications in a technocratic caste system.

The FDA recently approved the first CRISPR treatment available to the public to cure sickle cell disease. Let’s just hope that this technology continues to be used overwhelmingly for good and not for evil.

Imtiaz Mahmood provided some background context on the invention of CRISPR:

“Biochemist Jennifer Doudna and microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier co-invented (Chemistry Nobel Science Laureate 2020) the gene-editing system CRISPR-Cas9, a technology for editing DNA with unprecedented precision and efficiency. CRISPR-Cas9 opens up novel and wide-ranging possibilities across medicine, biology, and agriculture.

She founded the Innovative Genomics Institute in 2014. To commercialize her CRISPR technologies, Doudna has founded several companies including Caribou Biosciences, Intellia Therapeutics, Mammoth Biosciences, and Scribe Therapeutics.

She holds more than 100 U.S. patents. Her patents have been approved and today went into use on patients.”

The Hill featured more on the revolutionary new technology:

Casgevy, also known as exa-cel, is developed through a partnership between Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics.

The treatment involves taking a sickle cell patient’s own stem cells, editing them to create more fetal hemoglobin and transplanting them back into the individual.

When more fetal hemoglobin is produced, red blood cells don’t become “sickle” shaped, which is what causes the complications and pain associated with SCD.

TIME Magazine outlined the FDA approval and clinical trial of the revolutionary new treatment:

In making its decision on exa-cel, the FDA reviewed a study of 31 patients with sickle cell disease who had experienced repeated blockages in their blood vessels.

After getting exa-cel, 29 had no such attacks for a year. While it’s not clear yet how long the effects will last, experts hope that these early results mean longer, and potentially life-long, freedom from hospital visits and painful episodes.

For lova-cel, the agency looked at a study involving 32 patients; 28 did not experience any attacks during the two-year study period.


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