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Someday, Maybe

Some day, CRISPR or other gene-editing approaches could be used to treat or even prevent diseases like breast cancer, US News & World Report says.

It envisions a future in which BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers are offered "prophylactic gene editing rather than prophylactic bilateral mastectomies" to reduce their disease risk. Other patients, it adds, could be offered gene editing in conjunction with immunotherapy in which patients' cells are removed from their body, editing, and returned to tackle the cancer cells there. US News adds that clinical trials examining the use of CRISPR/Cas9 to treat late-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma and alter the PD-1 gene in cancer patients are underway in China.

However, US News notes that, at the moment, CRISPR-based gene editing does result in some off-target alterations, and that some of those changes occur at sites that current prediction algorithms don't suggest.

"Nevertheless, there's still plenty of reason to be optimistic about the potential that gene editing holds for the future of medicine and the treatment of breast cancer," it says. "Although CRISPR is not likely to be a therapeutic approach you'll be offered anytime soon, many scientists and doctors believe this revolutionary technology could signal the next frontier in personalized medicine."