Have you ever wondered why some lucky people eat chips, do not play sports and, nevertheless, do not clog arteries? Perhaps this is due to the fact that they have happy genes. And here, Alphabet (the parent company of Google) is funding a start-up company that plans to use gene editing to distribute successful DNA variants using the CRISPR tool. You should already know what CRISPR is. Cardiologists involved in this movement say that DNA injection injections can "provide lifelong protection against heart disease."
Google supports CRISPR
Startup Verve Therapeutics raised $ 58.5 million from sponsors including Google Ventures. What makes Verve different? Most gene therapy companies are focused on rare diseases like hemophilia. But Verve believes that editing people's DNA will help eliminate the most common cause of death.
Scientists know that some people have very low cholesterol levels, no matter how hard they try. They even have a list of genetic mutations that protect people from heart disease — differences in the PCSK9, HMGCR, and NPC1L1 genes. Verve's plan is to use CRISPR to introduce these kinds of useful mutations to other people.
Verve keeps its list of genes in secret. But most likely they will try to edit the liver; this is where fat is processed before it enters your arteries. As part of the launch, Verve will collaborate with Google Verily, a subsidiary of Google, developing CRISPR delivery through injecting nanoparticles.
Founder's motivation: the scientific side of the company will be led by Sekar Katiresan, a geneticist who leaves his post at the Brod Institute in Cambridge to join the company. His younger brother Centill died of a heart attack. "Ultimately, we see that this treatment will lead to a much smaller number of deaths like the one that my brother had."
In order to improve your situation right now, you need to instantly change the diet and sit on the exercise bike. But people find it difficult to adhere to such a routine. Scientists from Verve believe that if they manage to introduce happy genes into the body, it will not be necessary. Initially, genetic treatment can be applied to adults who have already suffered a heart attack and want to avoid the second.
Verve says she will stick to editing genes in adults. But let's face it: companies will be very interested in introducing genetic improvements into human embryos. Everyone knows the story of a Chinese scientist who created “genetically modified twins” in China, using CRISPR to protect against HIV. But few people know that he has previously deleted the PCSK9 gene, believing that this will contribute to protection against heart disease.
Let's discuss the ethical side of this case in our chat in Telegram.