The next trick for CRISPR is gene-editing pain away

MIT Technology Review | 8/22/2019 | Staff
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The street performer was only 10 years old. He put knives through his arms and walked on hot embers. By 14 he was dead. Someone dared him to jump from a roof. He did it, knowing it wouldn’t hurt.

The case of the Pakistani boy with a rare genetic disorder was described in 2006. He could feel warmth and cold and the texture of objects. But he never felt pain.

Scientists - Discovery - Tool - CRISPR - Step

Now scientists have paired the discovery with the gene-editing tool CRISPR, in what they say is a step toward a gene therapy that could block severe pain caused by diabetes, cancer, or car accidents without the addictive effects of opioids.

The new approach to pain eradication, which mimics the rare DNA mutation the Pakistani boy had, was demonstrated in mice in the laboratory of Prashant Mali at the University of California, San Diego. The research was led by Ana Moreno, who is now the CEO of a startup, Navega Therapeutics, which plans to develop a CRISPR treatment for pain.

Research - CRISPR - Key - Molecule - Neurons

The research, in which CRISPR was used to temporarily block a key molecule in pain-transmitting neurons in the spinal cord of mice, was described in a preprint paper published in July. The company didn’t want to comment before the report is formally published, but the idea is to inject the cerebral spinal fluid with viral particles carrying a modified version of CRISPR designed to interrupt pain signals.

The first tests of CRISPR gene therapies on humans began only recently. This year CRISPR Therapeutics started treating patients with sickle-cell anemia, and another company, Editas Medicine, plans to try to reverse an inherited blinding disease. Both those programs involve altering DNA sequences in a person’s genome so that needed genes are turned on.

Pain - Treatment - CRISPR - Therapies - Conditions—about

A pain treatment would extend CRISPR therapies into far more common conditions—about 20% of Americans have...
(Excerpt) Read more at: MIT Technology Review
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