Humans 2.0

Humans 2.0 @eric_lander: “What I love: #CRISPR [can] KO every gene &
identify…the [cancer] cell’s Achilles’ heels”

“What I love most about the CRISPR process is that you can take any cancer-cell line, knock out every gene, and identify every one of the cell’s Achilles’ heels,” Eric Lander, the fifty-eight-year-old director of the Broad, told me recently. Lander, who was among the leaders of the Human Genome Project, said that he had never
encountered a more promising research tool. “You can also use CRISPR to systematically study the ways that a cancer cell can escape from a treatment,” he said. “That should make it possible to build a comprehensive road map for cancer.”

Lander went on to say that each vulnerability of a tumor might be attacked by a single drug. But cancer cells elude drugs in many ways, and, to succeed, a therapy may need to block them all. That strategy has proved effective for infectious diseases like AIDS. “Remember the pessimism about H.I.V.,” he said, referring to the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when a diagnosis was essentially a death sentence. Eventually, virologists developed a series of drugs that interfere with the virus’s ability to replicate. The therapy became truly successful, however, only when those drugs, working together, could block the virus completely.

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