US physicians treat first sickle cell patient with CRISPR

Physicians have used CRISPR to treat a patient with a genetic disorder for the first time in the U.S., according to NPR.

The medical advancement is part of a clinical study investigating whether CRISPR can help patients with sickle cell disease. CRISPR Therapeutics, which is conducting the study with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, announced the treatment of the first patient July 29.

NPR spoke with the patient, 33-year-old Victoria Gray, in an exclusive interview at HCA Healthcare's Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, Tenn.

Physicians used CRISPR to genetically modify billions of Ms. Gray's bone marrow cells before injecting them back into her. The cells were altered to produce a protein that could compensate for the defective protein that causes sickle cell disease, according to NPR. However, researchers noted it will take months to assess whether the treatment is working.

HCA's TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville is just one of eight sites recruiting patients for the clinical trial across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

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