Landmark CRISPR Treatment (Abstract Science March 2-6)
Also: How COVID-19 diagnostics work and what’s on the horizon, and a primer on coronavirus vaccines in development
(Nature, Heidi Ledford, 3/5/20)
A person with a genetic condition that causes blindness has become the first to receive a CRISPR–Cas9 gene therapy administered directly into their body. The treatment is part of a landmark clinical trial to test the ability of CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing techniques to remove mutations that cause a rare condition called Leber’s congenital amaurosis 10 (LCA10). No treatment is currently available for the disease, which is a leading cause of blindness in childhood.
(The Scientist, Bianca Nogrady, 3/3/20)
The quick sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and distribution of the data early on in the COVID-19 outbreak has enabled the development of a variety of assays to diagnose patients based on snippets of the virus’s genetic code. But as the number of potential cases increases, and concerns rise about the possibility of a global pandemic, the pressure is on to enable even faster, more-accessible testing.
(Wired Science, Sara Harrison 3/4/20)
Developing vaccines that are safe and effective take time, investment, and good science. Developing a vaccine for a coronavirus like the one that causes Covid-19 comes with even more challenges. But at least 30 companies and academic institutions are trying. Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about those efforts. Check back often—we’ll be keeping it updated with any notable progress or setbacks.
—Compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Regina Kelder