For the first time, scientists have found a way to efficiently and precisely remove genes from white blood cells of the immune system and to insert beneficial replacements, all in far less time than it normally takes to edit genes.
If the technique can be replicated in other labs, experts said, it may open up profound new possibilities for treating an array of diseases, including cancer, infections like H.I.V. and autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The new work, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, “is a major advance,” said Dr. John Wherry, director of the Institute of Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study.
But because the technique is so new, no patients have yet been treated with white blood cells engineered with it.