Scientists successfully use CRISPR to lower cholesterol in monkeys

Did you know that as it stands, approximately one person every 36 seconds dies in the US from cardiovascular disease? Thanks to scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and private company Verve Therapeutics, this dismal statistic may soon change for the better.

The researchers have successfully used CRISPR base editors to turn off the gene that produces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in monkeys. The scientists developed a one-time gene therapy that reduced LDL cholesterol levels in monkeys by an impressive 60 percent in one week’s time.

How they accomplished this was through infusing CRISPR base editors using lipid nanoparticles that can efficiently and precisely change disease-related genes. They found that after a single infusion of lipid nanoparticles, LDL cholesterol was greatly reduced and that these changes were maintained for at least eight months after just one dose. LDL cholesterol is the bad kind of cholesterol that presents a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

This research is still in its early days, but it’s incredibly promising that it has been so effective on primates, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Gene editing must be done with extreme caution, but with further studies, there could be a cure for high cholesterol in humans in the near future.

Source Study: Nature

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