Stories by Eileen Drage O'Reilly

New advance could broaden use of CRISPR gene editing

Illustration of a double stranded DNA helix with a broken pencil erasing part of one strand
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Scientists announced Monday they have developed a "versatile and precise new approach" to targeting and replacing mutated genes that could eventually be used to address roughly 89% of genetic variations known to play a role in human diseases.

Why it matters: The technique, called prime editing, adds a third editing tool for mammalian cells in a manner that lessens the rate of the dangerous off-target deletions or insertions caused by the other types of tools, according to Broad Institute's David Liu, co-author of the paper published in Nature.

Malaria eradication may be possible by 2050, some experts say

Photo of 3 entomologists studying malaria in a lab in Burkina
Entomologists study mosquitos at the National Center for Research and Training on Malaria in Burkina Faso in West Africa. Photo: Olympia De Maismont/AFP/Getty Images

As world leaders, advocates and others meet in France this week to discuss the Global Fund's replenishment for its programs targeting tuberculosis, HIV and malaria, a group of international experts say malaria can be completely eradicated within this generation — via more funding, new data tools, political will and promising drugs.

Why it matters: The fight against malaria has seen great overall progress since 2000, with death rates dropping 60%, global incidences falling 36% and more than half of all countries reporting being free of malaria. However, it still kills a child every 2 minutes and the fight has plateaued or lost ground in some parts of the world.

U.S. likely to retain measles elimination status — but barely

Collage of an arm receiving a vaccination shot over an American flag, with measles dots scattered throughout
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York says it has reached a "milestone" in halting the measles outbreak that started in October 2018, and U.S. public health officials now believe the country has retained its measles elimination status — just barely meeting the year deadline, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Yes, but: Recent cases reported from returning international travelers demonstrate the danger of new outbreaks when there are still pockets of communities with low vaccination rates. Despite measles being mostly preventable, the combination of the anti-vaccination movement and vaccine hesitancy places several communities at risk.