Editing Cholesterol Genes Could Stop the Biggest Killer on Earth

0
31

According to the company, that small adjustment should be enough to permanently lower a person’s levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, the fat molecule that causes arteries to clog and harden over time.

The patient in New Zealand had an inherited risk of extra high cholesterol and was already suffering from heart disease. However, the company believes the same technique could eventually be used in millions of people to prevent cardiovascular disease.

“If this works and is safe, this is the answer to a heart attack — this is the cure,” said Sekar Kathiresan, a gene researcher who started Verve three years ago and is the company’s CEO.

It’s been 10 years since scientists developed CRISPR, a technology to make targeted changes to DNA in cells, but so far the method has only been tried on people suffering from rare diseases such as sickle cell anemia, and only as part of exploratory studies. .

Sekar Kathiresan, cardiologist and genetics researcher, is the CEO of Verve

THANKS TO VERVE

If Verve’s experiment works, it could point to a much wider use of gene editing to prevent common disorders. Large parts of the world’s population have LDL that is too high, but many people can’t get it under control. More people worldwide die from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease than from anything else.

“Of all the different genome edits happening in the clinic, this one could have the biggest impact because of how many people could benefit from it,” said Eric Topol, a cardiologist and researcher at Scripps Research.