CRISPR and the cancer link. Who said what?

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Credit: Ernesto del Aguila III, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

A pair of papers published in Nature Medicine have caused a stir about CRISPR-edited cells lacking a well-known tumor suppressor gene. STAT is doing an online chat next week to follow up the news. In the meantime, this is a sample of how the CRISPR community is commenting the story.

“The reactions have been exaggerated […] this is not something that should stop research on CRISPR therapies. I think it’s almost the other way — we should put more effort into such things.” Jussi Taipale (University of Cambridge), coauthor of one of the papers.

“We have all been looking for the possibility of cancer. So far, no one has seen evidence of it based on p53 status or induced by editing”. But “these are important papers since they remind everyone that genome editing isn’t magic.” Jacob E. Corn (Innovative Genomics Institute, Berkeley)

“1) Beware exaggeration and overstated headlines. The papers say after CRISPR Cas9 DSB p53 is activated. They don’t say CRISPR could cause cancer. 2) One of the papers was posted a year ago on bioRxiv preprint server -> not a new finding.” Gaetan Burgio (Australian Nationa University)

“It’s a valid concern.” However, genome editing is evolving fast and “we’re going to have a whole new generation of molecules that have nothing to do with CRISPR. The stock market isn’t a reflection of the future .” George Church (Harvard University)

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