The rights to the discovery of the century, to alter life at the genetic level, is being contested.
If you can repair a defect with a one-time therapy, you wipe out the existing market for treating the condition and scale back related doctor and hospital visits. And if you can cut out a precise part of a gene, at some point you might be able to replace it with something else — turning the infection-fighting T-cells into super soldiers that can eradicate cancer, for example. Researchers are looking at ways to alter mosquitos so they don’t carry malaria, treat eye disorders and even modify elephants to bring back woolly mammoths.
“From a technical standpoint, the CRISPR field has inspired many scientific teams worldwide,” said Corinne Le Buhan, a researcher with IPStudies. Most of the work is being done in the U.S. and China, while Europe “clearly lags behind,” she said.