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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 A claim in a paper last year that CRISPR caused many off-target side-effects was retracted over interpretations of data, and a report that that humans may be immune to Cas9 was determined to be something that could be worked around.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

DOJ: Russians hacked federal prosecutors

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyber-espionage campaign broke into the email accounts of some of the most prominent federal prosecutors' offices around the country last year, the Justice Department announced.

State of play: DOJ said 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees in the four U.S. attorney offices in New York were breached.

Biden's quick-trigger COVID problem

Seems like last year, but this was Thursday in Orlando. Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

The Biden administration's handling of the Delta surge has left Americans confused and frustrated, fueling media overreaction and political manipulation.

Why it matters: The past year and a half have left Americans cynical about the government's COVID response, and — in many cases — misinformed or uninformed. We're getting fog and reversals when steady, clear-eyed, factual information is needed more than ever.

50 mins ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans infected with COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, less than 0.1% have been infected with the coronavirus, and 0.001% have died, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting some media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.