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CRISPR Companies Respond

In separate letters, Intellia Therapeutics and Editas Medicine criticize a recent report in Nature Methods that found that CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing led to unexpected changes, Technology Review reports.

Stanford University's Vinit Mahajan and his colleagues used the gene-editing approach to fix the mutation behind retinitis pigmentosa in mice, but when they sequenced the whole genomes of the edited mice, they discovered indels and SNPs that hadn't been predicted to be possible off-target editing sites. The report sent the stock of gene-editing companies down.

However, Tech Review points out that researchers on Twitter and elsewhere uncovered errors in their analysis. In particular, it notes that the researchers mistakenly attributed some normal variation between the animals to the effect of editing.

Scientists from Editas and Intellia both argue that report's conclusions aren't supported by its data. Editas co-founder George Church, who is also at Harvard University, tells Tech Review that the report should at least be updated and, possibly, retracted, while Intellia's CEO Nessan Bermingham says it should be retracted.

Nature Methods says it is "carefully considering all concerns that have been raised with us and are discussing them with the authors."

The Scan

And Back

The New York Times reports that missing SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences are back in a different database.

Lacks Family Hires Attorney

A lawyer for the family of Henrietta Lacks plans to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells in product development, the Baltimore Sun reports.

For the Unknown

The Associated Press reports that family members are calling on the US military to use new DNA analysis techniques to identify unknown sailors and Marines who were on the USS Arizona.

PLOS Papers on Congenital Heart Disease, COVID-19 Infection Host MicroRNAs, Multiple Malformation Mutations

In PLOS this week: new genes linked to congenital heart disease, microRNAs with altered expression in COVID-19, and more.