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Fyodor Urnov on What's Next For Gene Therapy

Why Biology Is No Longer Destiny (Or Maybe It Never Was)

Key Takeaway
Out of 5,000 genetic diseases, only 10 are being pursued. #OWHealth

Clinical advances like gene therapy and immunotherapy will transform our perceptions of disease prognosis and treatments. Feats that we once believed were merely science fiction are becoming real, moving from lab bench to hospital bedside. 

To learn more about what's on the horizon for CRISPR and more, Fyodor Urnov, Professor, University of California, Berkeley, and Scientific Director, Technology and Translation at the Innovative Genomics Institute, shared his predictions at the 2020 Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit. Here, Fyodor explored what expensive, curative treatments may mean for those in the business of financing and providing care. He also discussed his colleague, Jennifer Doudna, from the University of California, Berkeley, winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors and the implication of this breakthrough for the greater healthcare industry.

Watch the Conversation from the Health Innovation Summit

Memorable Moments

  • We have to improve the way we get CRISPR machinery to patients' cells. And, we have to work with regulators to make sure the path for pre-clinical and early-stage clinical is maximally configured.
  • A gene therapy cure for sickle cell will cost close to $2 million a patient.
  • Come 2040 or 2050, CRISPR will become the standard of clinical care.
  • Out of 5,000 genetic diseases, only 10 are being pursued in practice, for all-out clinical development. CRISPR can, in principle, be used to treat most of them.
  • A CRISPR cure that is priced at $3 million is, in practical terms, not an actual solution to the underlying public health problem.

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