Google backs a bid to use CRISPR to prevent heart disease

crispr allo

Ever wonder why some fortunate people eat chips, don’t exercise, and still don’t get clogged arteries? It could be because they’ve got lucky genes.

Alphabet (Google’s parent company) is bankrolling a company that plans to use gene editing to spread fortunate DNA variations, potentially conferring lifelong protection against heart disease.

Big idea: Most gene-therapy companies have gone after rare diseases like hemophilia. But the startup, called Verve, is focusing on solving the most common cause of death.

Mutant clues: Some people have low levels of bad cholesterol, without even trying. There’s even a list of genetic mutations known to protect people from heart disease. Verve’s plan is to use CRISPR to install these types of beneficial mutations in other people.

Fix is in you: People to struggle to stick to diet and exercise regimes to reduce their risk of heart disease. Verve thinks that if they can install lucky genes in your body, you may not have to.  

Enhancement: Verve says it’s sticking to gene editing in adults. But let’s face it: it could be very tempting to introduce genetic enhancements like these into human embryos, too.