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Strands of DNA being edited by CRISPR

It’s been over three years since US regulators greenlit the nation’s first in-human test of Crispr’s disease-fighting potential, more than three years of waiting to find out if the much-hyped gene-editing technique could be safely used to beat back tough-to-treat cancers. Today, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford finally revealed the first published report describing the trial. The highly anticipated results showed that the procedure is both safe and feasible; the Crispr’d cells went where they were supposed to go and survived for longer than expected. They didn’t cure anyone’s cancer, but they didn’t kill anyone, either, which means the results hold significant promise for the future of Crispr-based medicines.

The trial was small—just three people—and designed only to assess the technique’s safety. Last year, each cancer patient received infusions of about 100 million of their own T cells, which had been genetically modified in a University of Pennsylvania lab. There, researchers equipped the cells with souped up cancer-recognizing receptors and used Crispr to make them more efficient killing machines. These cells successfully joined up with the rest... see more