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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Editing cell genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 might increase the risk of developing cancer, two studies published Monday warn, STAT News reports.

Why it matters: The goal of altering cells with CRISPR, a gene-editing tool, is to treat disease, not cause it. If these new results hold up, they could present an insurmountable roadblock for the development of certain CRISPR-based therapies. They are unlikely to stop all CRISPR-based treatment, however.

  • Already, stocks for CRISPR Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Intellia Therapeutics, and Sangamo Therapeutics have tanked over the reports. These companies are developing treatments for diseases based on the CRISPR techniques the two studies call into question.

The science: The results of these studies likely only apply to one way that CRISPR Cas9 edits genomes, when it replaces disease-causing DNA with modified, healthy versions, per STAT News. It is possible the results don’t apply to another method, which cuts DNA out.

  • What they’re saying: The results are “plausible,” the CEO of CRISPR Therapeutics, Sam Kulkarni, told STAT.

Trend: It’s not the first time CRISPR has run into trouble. A claim in a paper last year that CRISPR caused many off-target side-effects was retracted over interpretations of data, and a report that that humans may be immune to Cas9 was determined to be something that could be worked around.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Officer Kim Potter arrested, charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Kim Potter's booking photos. Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Kim Potter, the former police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, was released on a $100,000 bond on Wednesday, Hennepin County jail records show.

Why it matters: Sunday's shooting of the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year, has reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests and led to three consecutive nights of unrest.

Biden names Erika Moritsugu as senior AAPI liaison

Erika Moritsugu. Photo courtesy: National Partnership for Women & Families

President Biden has named Erika Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, the White House announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: The decision follows weeks of pressure from AAPI leaders to include more Asian American representation at the Cabinet level and in senior administration roles.

Matt Gaetz targets CNN in new ad amid sexual misconduct claims

Rep. Matt Gaetz in Doral, Florida, last week. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) announced Wednesday a six-figure ad buy for a spot that takes aim at CNN as part of an offensive to hit back at mounting sexual misconduct allegations, Politico first reported.

Driving the news: Gaetz is under federal investigation following sex trafficking allegations, and the House Ethics Committee has also opened an inquiry. Announcing the 30-second ad, to run in his Florida Panhandle district, Gaetz called on his Twitter followers to "help us fight back!"