US patients are about to be enrolled in the first study to test gene editing inside the body to try to cure an inherited form of blindness. This fall, two companies, Editas Medicine and Allergan, together with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital will embark on a study using the controversial geneediting method CRISPR, on up to 18 patients with inherited blindness as a result of a missing gene which converts light to signals in the brain to facilitate sight.
The study will supply a healthy version of the gene that is missing in the patients by editing their DNA in a specific spot. The use of CRISPR was in hot debate last year as Chinese scientist, He Jiankui altered the DNA of embryos to provide babies and their descendants
resistance to HIV. To date, only one other US company has performed gene editing inside the body. Researchers believe although the risk of CRISPR is not fully known, it provides great potential to cure many medical conditions due to genetic flaws.