Scientists warn of cancer dangers of revolutionary new 'designer genes' tool

The technology, which is expected to revolutionise research into inherited diseases and stem cells, has been found to contain a flaw.

The tool, known as CRISPR-Cas9, works most effectively on cells lacking a means of protection from DNA damage.

It means the tool is likely to pick out these abnormal cells, leaving patients with more of them in their bodies.

Study leader Prof Jussi Taipale of Cambridge University said: “Researchers need to be aware of the potential risks when developing new treatments.

“We don’t want to sound alarmist, and are not saying that CRISPR-Cas9 is bad or dangerous.

“Like with any medical treatment, there are always side-effects or potential harm and this should be balanced against the benefits of the treatment.”

Hopes are high for the tool, which is likely to be a major tool in medical research and could lead to treatments for disorders such as cystic fibrosis.

Shares in gene editing companies fell by up to 13 per cent on the warning.


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