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Immune Issue

A number of people may have a natural immunity to the Cas9 proteins of the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing machinery, Stat News reports. This, Fierce Biotech adds, could complicate efforts to develop the tool as a therapeutic approach.

Researchers from Stanford University note in a preprint appearing at BioRxiv that most Cas9 proteins used are derived from either Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes, which both cause a high number of infections among people. This led Stanford's Matthew Porteus and his colleagues to explore whether people harbor immunity to the S. aureus homolog of Cas9 or the S. pyogenes homolog of Cas9. When they analyzed 22 blood samples they obtained from newborns and 12 blood samples from adults, the researchers found that 79 percent had immunity to the S. aureus Cas9 homolog and 65 percent did to the S. pyogenes Cas9 homolog.

Porteus tells Stat News that his team's findings don't mean that work developing CRISPR as a treatment should stop, but just that researchers should be aware of the issue. Porteus is one of the scientific founders of CRISPR Therapeutics.

The University of Florida's Roland Herzog also tells Stat News that the findings are "not a show stopper, but the field needs to know about this, that it's a potential problem that they need to work around or fix."

Indeed, alternatives to the Cas9 enzyme have been under exploration.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.