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purple cancer cells

A teenager with aggressive leukaemia now has no detectable cancer cells after becoming the first person to receive a treatment for the condition that involves a new kind of CRISPR called base editing. However, it will not be clear for some years whether she will remain free of the condition.

The 13-year-old girl, called Alyssa, hadn’t responded to other treatments. As part of a trial, she received a dose of immune cells from a donor that had been modified to attack the cancer. Twenty-eight days later, tests revealed she was in remission.

“This is quite remarkable, although it is still a preliminary result, which needs to be monitored and confirmed over the next few months,” said Robert Chiesa, one of the doctors treating Alyssa, in a statement released by Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Leukaemia is caused by immune cells in the bone marrow multiplying out of control. It is usually treated by killing all bone marrow cells with chemotherapy and then replacing the bone marrow with a transplant. This is successful in most cases. If it...