Close up of cancer cells.

Bold headlines linking blockbuster gene-editing tool CRISPR to cancer sent stocks in companies trying to bring the technology to medicine tumbling.
But scientists who study the technique say the concerns are overblown at best and an incorrect interpretation of the science at worst.
Ultimately, using CRISPR does not appear to present any challenges that scientists familiar with gene editing have not already faced.

Earlier this week, reports linking the blockbuster gene-editing tool CRISPR to cancer in two studies sent investors scrambling to pull out of companies working on the technology, which is being studied for use in everything from food to medicine. The tool’s precise cut-and-paste approach to gene editing allows for a range of promising medical applications, from curing sickle cell anemia to preventing some forms of blindness.

On Monday afternoon, headlines suggested that cells edited with the tool were more likely to become cancerous. Within hours of the reports being published, shares of Editas Medicine, CRISPR Therapeutics, Intellia Therapeutics, and Sangamo Therapeutics — all of which are trying to bring CRISPR to medicine — took a significant tumble.

But scientists who study CRISPR call the reports “overblown.” They say the link to cancer is tenuous at best and an incorrect interpretation of the results at worst.

“This is absurd,” John Doench, the associate director of the genetic perturbation platform at MIT’s Broad Institute, told Business Insider. “There was a massive overreaction here.”

Like many other researchers involved in the space, Doench read the two studies highlighted in the recent report and published in the journal Nature Medicine. Instead of concluding that the technique causes cancer, Doench read the papers and thought it highlighted facts about how cells behave in response to perceived threats. Most of these facts were already …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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