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Nearly 40 years after surgeons first operated on fetuses to cure devastating abnormalities, researchers have taken the first step toward curing genetic disease before birth via genome editing: scientists reported on Monday that they used the genome editing technique CRISPR to alter the DNA of laboratory mice in the womb, eliminating an often-fatal liver disease before the animals had even been born.

The research, by a team at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), is a very early proof of concept. But while CRISPRing human fetuses is years away, at best, the success in mice bolsters what Dr. William Peranteau, who co-led the study, calls his dream of curing genetic diseases before birth.

“A lot more animal work needs to be done before we can even think about applying this [fetal genome editing] clinically,” said Peranteau, a pediatric and fetal surgeon at CHOP. “But I think fetal genome editing may be where fetal surgery [which is now routine] once was, and that one day we’ll use it to treat diseases that cause significant morbidity and mortality.”

…continue reading ‘CRISPR Cures Inherited Disorder in Mice, Paving Way for Genetic Therapy Before Birth’

Thumb image Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia via STAT

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