Jennifer Adair, a senior scientist at Fred Hutch, speaks at the 2019 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Genetically editing cells using CRISPR could be the answer to curing genetic disorders such as sickle cell anemia. But in order for the technology to be available for people in countries like Nigeria — where around a quarter of the population carries the sickle cell trait — the technology will need to become substantially cheaper and less invasive.
That’s where gold nanoparticles come in.
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are devising an approach that vastly simplifies how CRISPR is applied. Their goal is to create a safe process for gene editing that takes place entirely within the body of a patient.
In order to edit human stem cells using CRISPR today, scientists have to follow a process that involves removing the cells from a patient’s bone marrow, electrocuting those cells, and modifying them with engineered virus particles.
The process gets even more invasive from there. “We actually have to treat these patients with chemotherapy, radiation or other agents in order for these cells that were genetically manipulated to be taken up,” Jennifer Adair, a senior scientist at Fred Hutch, said during a …read more