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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 A claim in a paper last year that CRISPR caused many off-target side-effects was retracted over interpretations of data, and a report that that humans may be immune to Cas9 was determined to be something that could be worked around.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 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

8 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.