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The Vulnerabilities

By exploiting genetic vulnerabilities, genome editing may be able to help combat disease, the Boston Herald's Jordan Graham says. For instance, Graham notes that the HIV virus cannot infect some people who lack a specific protein, and genome editing could be used in others so that they do not produce that protein and thus cannot be infected.

"We take out cells, correct it, ... and put the cell back into the person," says the Broad Institute's Feng Zhang, who developed the CRISPR approach. "It's a biotechnology that allows us to go into the genome, the DNA of a cell, and make very exact changes within the DNA."

However, it would be a time-consuming process to do that for HIV, Graham adds, as every blood cell in the person would have to be removed and changed.

Still, Zhang says that the process could address other diseases like sickle cell anemia and most viruses.