Forget designer babies. Here’s how CRISPR is really changing lives
The first generation of CRISPR treatments are also limited in another way. Most use the tool to damage DNA, essentially shutting off genes—a process famously described as “genome vandalism” by Harvard biologist George Church.
Treatments that attempt to break genes include one designed to try to zap HIV. Another is the one Gray got. By breaking a specific bit of DNA, her treatment unlocks a second version of the hemoglobin gene that people normally use only as babies. Since hemoglobin is the errant protein in sickle-cell, booting up another copy solves the problem.
According to Liu’s analysis, two-thirds of current studies aim at “disrupting” genes in this way.