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Editing cells’ genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 might increase the risk that the altered cells, intended to treat disease, will trigger cancer, two studies published on Monday warn — a potential game-changer for the companies developing CRISPR-based therapies.

In the studies, published in Nature Medicine, scientists found that cells whose genomes are successfully edited by CRISPR-Cas9 have the potential to seed tumors inside a patient. That could make some CRISPR’d cells ticking time bombs, according to researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and, separately, Novartis.


CRISPR has already dodged two potentially fatal bullets — a 2017 claim that it causes sky-high numbers of off-target effects was retracted in March, and a report of human immunity to Cas9 was largely shrugged off as solvable. But experts are taking the cancer-risk finding seriously.

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  • Use of the acronym NHEJ with no mention of “nonhomologous end‐joining pathway” obfuscates the facts about the energy-dependent creation of microRNAs, which links the NHEJ pathway to naturally occurring RNA interference and cell type stability in species from microbes to humans via the physiology of pheromone-controlled reproduction. Adding the acronym homology‐directed repair (HDR) outside that context suggests the obfuscation is deliberate.

  • Any virus or cancer must disable p53 in order to hijack the cell replicate successfully. That was the basis of a number of unsuccessful virus anti-cancer therapies like Onyx Pharmaceutical’s technology. I don’t see why this is a huge deal when it comes to CRISPR. Turn the gene back on after altering it.

    • Re: Turn the gene back on after altering it.

      Do you know anything about quantized energy-dependent gene activation and biophysically constrained viral latency? If not, play the cell biology game “Cytosis” and learn why serious scientists won’t take you seriously.

      “Cytosis” is for ages 10+

  • Seriously! You go in the sun too long, or use tan machine, smoke, be in polluted air, contamination – ALL CAUSE CANCER!
    This news is for “technology” that MAY increase the risk of cancer. I am stunned from the news, AND the comments. I am buying lot more stocks of this. Such uneducated statements is the reason genetics have not make strides in main stream…. but soon!

  • The article describes that these methods of gene editing work better when the p53 gene is deficient/mutant. A deficiency/mutation of the p53 gene creates a situation where some cancers more easily develop. However, where is a cause-and-effect established? The article does not say that gene editing CAUSES the p53 deficiency, only that gene editing may be more effective in patients/subjects who happen to already have a deficient/mutated p53 gene. How does that rule out gene editing as something to avoid or not to continue to research?

    • The virus-driven theft of quantized energy causes the deficient/mutated p53 gene and all pathology. Research continues in the context of naturally occurring RNA interference, but the findings are hidden in technical jargon that can only be understood by a polymath who spent decades working as a medical laboratory scientist. See my youtube video: “Energy as information and constrained endogenous RNA interference”

    • Yes.
      See: “Energy as information and constrained endogenous RNA interference” Published on 15 Feb 2017
      Feedback loops link quantized energy as information to biophysically constrained RNA-mediated protein folding chemistry. Light induced energy-dependent changes link angstroms to ecosystems from classical physics to chemistry/chirality and to molecular epigenetics/autophagy.
      The National Microbiome Initiative links microbial quorum sensing to the physiology of reproduction via endogenous RNA interference and chromosomal rearrangements. The rearrangements link energy-dependent fixed amino acid substitutions to the Precision Medicine Initiative via genome wide inferences of natural selection.
      This detailed representation of energy-dependent natural selection for codon optimality links biologically- based cause and effect from G protein-coupled receptors to RNA-mediated amino acid substitutions and the functional structure of supercoiled DNA. Energy-dependent polycombic ecological adaptations are manifested in supercoiled DNA. Chromosomal inheritance links the adaptations from morphological phenotypes to healthy longevity via behavioral phenotypes.
      For contrast, virus-driven energy theft is the link from messenger RNA degradation to negative supercoiling, constraint breaking mutations, and hecatombic evolution. The viral hecatomb links transgenerational epigenetic inheritance from archaea to Zika virus-damaged DNA, which typically is repaired by endogenous RNA interference and fixation of RNA-mediated amino acid substitutions in organized genomes.

  • This is an inaccurate portrayal of the findings of the Nature study mentioned. I’d recommend understanding the content of the study before writing such a “click bait” Title which will hurt public perception of CRISPR.

    • The public perception of CRISPR-Cas9 as cancer-causing gene editing can be viewed in the context of what all serious scientists know about the microRNA mediated stability of supercoiled DNA. Simply put, theorists have bastardized the practice of medicine and provided another opportunity for George Church to deliver his billion dollar baby. This time, it”s “RNA-Guided Human Genome Engineering” See the 2015 patent

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