Sep 26, 2019

Patients issue new pleas for experimental gene editing

Photo: Sandra Baker/Getty Images

Patients and parents of children with life-threatening diseases may start asking for experimental gene editing as a form of treatment, STAT reports.

The big picture: Bioethicists, genetic engineers and lawmakers are now asking the same ethical questions that led to the 2018 law allowing "the right to try" experimental drugs prior to FDA approval: namely, do patients have a right to try gene editing technology?

What they're saying: "It's so intuitively simple: replace or correct a gene that's not functioning properly. There is so much hype, more and more people will think, I want that," bioethicist Alison Bateman-House of New York University told STAT.

  • In a potentially prescient move, lawmakers in California passed a law banning people from using unproven therapies amid concern that people would start biohacking themselves or using do-it-yourself CRISPR kits.
  • There are only 2 approved gene therapies in the U.S., one for a form of blindness and the other for spinal muscular atrophy.

The bottom line: "Parents are increasingly asking scientists for access to experimental compounds that have never even been tested in animals" to help save their sick children, per STAT, and more such pleas for genetic technologies are likely only a matter of time.

Go deeper: The cost of gene therapies could test the health care system

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Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.