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sickle cell
A panel of experts said on Tuesday that a groundbreaking treatment for sickle cell disease was safe enough for clinical use, setting the stage for likely federal approval by Dec. 8 of a powerful potential cure for an illness that afflicts more than 100,000 Americans.

The Food and Drug Administration had previously found that the treatment, known as exa-cel and jointly developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals of Boston and CRISPR Therapeutics of Switzerland, was effective. The panel’s conclusion on Tuesday about exa-cel’s safety sends it to the F.D.A. for a decision on greenlighting it for broad patient use.

Exa-cel frees patients from the debilitating and painful effects of this chronic, deadly disease. If approved, the Vertex product would be the first medicine to treat a genetic disease with the CRISPR gene-editing technique.

It could also be the first of a series of new options to cure the excruciating illness. By Dec. 20, the F.D.A. will decide on a second potential cure for sickle cell, a gene therapy devised by the company Bluebird Bio of Somerville, Mass.

Sickle cell disease is caused...