Federal panel to review proposal for first human CRISPR test

pharmafile | June 20, 2016 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing crispr, gene editing, human testing, oncology 

A US Federal safety board is set to review a proposal for the first human use of the gene editing technology, CRISPR, which will target myeloma, melanoma and sarcomas, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Recombinant DNA Advisory committee (RAC) will look at using the type of molecular scissors which are able to precisely cut DNA, where the patient’s own blood cells will be removed and genetically altered using the technology.

Submitted by a team from the University of Pennsylvania, the researchers could be granted a head start on other players in the CRISPR space, such as Editas Medicines and Intellia Therapeutics if approved.

In a blog post on the NIH website, associate director for science policy, Carrie D. Wolinetz, says: “Researchers in the field of gene transfer are excited by the potential of utilising CRISPR/Cas9 to repair or delete mutations that are involved in numerous human diseases in less time and at a lower cost than earlier gene editing systems.”

However, she welcomes that, since there are significant scientific, safety and ethical implications involved with this treatment, that RAC will discuss these issues in a public forum ensuring that “innovations in biomedical research” are supported “in a fashion that reflects well-established scientific and ethical principles.”

A decision on whether to approve CRISPR for human testing is expected during the committee meeting taking place June 21/22.

Sean Murray

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