sick child in bed mother holds hand

How Can CRISPR Treat Disease? Part 2

CRISPR is a precise gene-editing tool that has potential to treat diseases in humans and animals. Blogger Lynne Feifer of 365 Days of Baking helped Best Food Facts find out more about this technology and how it can be used.

“This is such a powerful, potent promising technology. We have so much at stake here in food and ag for animals and plants, agriculture, biotechnology, biofuels, medicine, the clinic translational medicine to cure disease and feed the world,” said Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou, whom Lynne interviewed at his lab at North Carolina State University.

One possible application for CRISPR is in treating sickle cell, an inherited disease. The disease affects 100,000 people in the United States and is most common among African-Americans. Dr. Nazia Tabassum is a pediatric specialist who treats sickle cell patients.

“Some of the patients come in for severe complications like severe pain crisis which requires IV narcotics and hydration. Some of these kids can also have severe sickling in their lungs which we call acute chest syndrome, which is a medical emergency,” she said.

Lynne had planned to interview Shakir Cannon, who had battled sickle cell disease his entire life and was a passionate advocate for CRISPR technology. However, he passed away in December 2017.

CRISPR also has potential to ease suffering and cure diseases among animals. Lynne talked to Erin Brenneman, a pig farmer in Iowa who said they are interested in how CRISPR might cure a disease called PRRS. “The acronym PRRS stands for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. It is the most economically and emotionally draining disease for all those raising pigs in North America, Europe and Asia,” Brenneman said.

She said pig farmers are excited about the potential for PRRS to cure the disease.

Check out the other videos in the series What is CRISPR? and How Can CRISPR Improve Food?