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CRISPR Gene-Editing Is Being Used to Fight Cancer—And May Be Safe

November 7, 2019, 10:51 PM UTC

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Good afternoon, readers.

A landmark U.S. trial of CRISPR gene-editing to treat cancer patients finds that the treatment may, at the very least, be safe.

University of Pennsylvania researchers launched the early-stage safety trial in April (the first such trial in America, though others had already begun in China). And the results are, according to the scientists, “encouraging.”

Now here’s the inevitable caveat—These are extremely early trials, and they only assess safety in humans, not efficacy, for inserting cells genetically modified with CRISPR in order to treat cancer patients.

And, even on the safety front, there will be a whole lot more followup studies (and enrolled trial patients) before anything is certain. For now, though, the field’s champions have something to cheer about.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com
@the_sy_guy

DIGITAL HEALTH

American Well snatches up Aligned Telehealth to build out virtual psychiatric services. Telemedicine giant American Well is continuing to expand its footprint by snatching up Aligned Telehealth, a virtual care platform that focuses on psychiatric and behavioral health visits. That's significant given that the mental health professional shortage, relative to patients' needs, is even greater than the broader doctor shortage that's dogged America for years. 

INDICATIONS

Trump administration takes Gilead to court over HIV drugs. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is hitting back against biotech giant Gilead, which has a portfolio of majorly popular HIV treatments including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada, in a patent dispute with a federal lawsuit. HHS is now claiming that the CDC's contributions to developing HIV prevention drugs Truvada and Descovy (which Gilead sells) mars the company's complaints to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regarding royalties the government feel is owed by Gilead. “HHS improperly filed for patents without alerting Gilead, despite its obligation to do so, and we have openly explained the defects in the patents since becoming aware of them," said Gilead in a statement responding to the HHS suit. (Endpoints News)

THE BIG PICTURE

Another vaping death update: 39 deaths, more than 2,000 cases. The CDC has released its latest update on vaping-related deaths and the numbers keep rising. The latest count? 2,051 confirmed cases and 30 deaths. To date, it appears most cases are related to illicit THC pods (though the full range of causes still isn't clear). (Reuters)

REQUIRED READING

How Adding A.I. to Gene Sequencing Can Help Detect Cancer Earlyby Fortune Editors

China's Bitcoin Is No Libertarian Crypto Dreamby Adam Lashinsky

How CEOs Are Adapting to the Changing Demographics of the American Workforceby Fortune Editors

Is OneCoin the Biggest Financial Fraud in History? by David Z. Morris

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