CRISPR is entering its first ever human clinical trials. The gene editor is targeting blood disorders, blindness, and cancer this go-round.
CRISPR’s reputation was tarnished last year when a Chinese scientist edited a gene in embryos of two female babies, calling into question scientific regulations and highlighting the ethics of gene manipulation.
The new trials don’t face the same ethical challenges. They’re being tested in children and adults, not embryos, and won’t lead to inherited DNA changes, says bioethicist Alan Regenberg at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.
But significant questions still remain about whether CRISPR can live up to its debut promise in 2012: that it could cure over 6,000 known genetic diseases.