Ana Moreno and Prashant Mali

Can a CRISPR start­up suc­ceed where Pfiz­er, Glax­o­SmithK­line, Bio­gen and Genen­tech failed and cure chron­ic pain?

A few years ago, when Ana Moreno was do­ing her PhD work at the San Diego lab of one of the ear­ly CRISPR gene edit­ing re­searchers, she came across a pa­per that made na­tion­al head­lines a decade pri­or.

Re­searchers in the UK fol­lowed up on sto­ries of a Pak­istani boy who could walk on coals and pass knives through his arms and de­ter­mined that rare mu­ta­tions in one gene, called Nav1.7, made him and sev­er­al rel­a­tives un­able to feel pain. The find­ing, the New York Times re­port­ed, rais­es “hopes of de­vel­op­ing nov­el drugs that would abol­ish pain by block­ing the gene’s func­tion.”

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