How CRISPR gene editing will treat diseases in future: Nobel-winning Intellia co-founder Jennifer Doudna

Gene-editing technology CRISPR reached a major milestone, completing its first systemic delivery as a medicine to a human body. CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, effectively cuts genomes and slices DNA to treat genetic diseases.

The latest breakthrough, the result of a trial between biotech company Regeneron and Boston-based startup Intellia Therapeutics, treated a rare disease after being given as an IV infusion. Previously, other applications of the CRISPR technology had been limited to ex vivo therapy, or where cells are removed from the body for genetic manipulation in a laboratory and then reintroduced to the body.

Jennifer Doudna, who was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work on CRISPR gene editing and is the co-founder of Intellia, recently told CNBC the evolution of the technology from the publication of her early work to clinical trials showing it to be effective in treating diseases in less than 10 years represents, “One of the fastest rollouts I think of technology from the fundamental, initial science to an actual application.”

“It’s largely because the technology comes at a moment when there’s enormous demand for genome editing, as well as a lot of knowledge about genomes,” Doudna said at the recent CNBC Global Evolve Summit in mid-June.

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