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CRISPR cures inherited disorder in mice, paving way for genetic therapy before birth

Nearly 40 years after surgeons first operated on fetuses to cure devastating abnormalities, researchers have taken the first step toward curing genetic disease before birth via genome editing: scientists reported on Monday that they used the genome editing technique CRISPR to alter the DNA of laboratory mice in the womb, eliminating an often-fatal liver disease before the animals had even been born.

The research, by a team at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), is a very early proof of concept. But while CRISPRing human fetuses is years away, at best, the success in mice bolsters what Dr. William Peranteau, who co-led the study, calls his dream of curing genetic diseases before birth.

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