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In July 2019, Victoria Gray, a young mother of four from Forest, Mississippi, became the first patient to receive a CRISPR-based therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD) through the exa-cel therapy trial, sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics. 
Her remarkable recovery since then, foreshadowing the successful treatment of dozens of other SCD patients in the trial, led to the swift regulatory approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2023. Casgevy, as the therapy is now called, has also been approved by agencies in the U.K. and the European Union. Gray’s inspiring story has been shared in a series of interviews since 2019 with National Public Radio and in a brief presentation at the Human Genome Editing conference in London in March 2023. But this is her first extended video interview, recorded for the inaugural State of Cell and Gene Therapy virtual summit, broadcast on January 24, 2024. In an exclusive 45-minute interview with GEN’s editorial director, Kevin Davies, PhD, and GEN senior editor, Uduak Thomas, Gray shares her story of being diagnosed at three months, years of living with debilitating pain and doctors’ visits, and the sustaining power of her Christian faith. She brings us into the hospital room at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at TriStar Health in Nashville, TN, where she received the infusion of her gene-edited “supercells.” Gray also discusses the arduous weeks of preparation and testing prior to treatment, the road to recovery, her new life back home with her family post-treatment, and finding her voice as a public speaker. 
The front cover of the February 2024 issue of The CRISPR Journal showing a picture of Victoria Gray
Victoria Gray, the first patient with sickle cell disease to be treated using CRISPR-Cas9, on the cover of the February 2024 issue of The CRISPR Journal. [Dianne Paulet]
    The transcript of Victoria’s interview has been published in The CRISPR Journal (February 2024).

Sickle Cell Salvation: The Victoria Gray Interview

The Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) meeting is off and running in Orlando, FL. Julianna LeMieux, PhD, Deputy Editor-in-Chief at GEN is on the ground—in the talks, visiting suites, and at the coffee hours. Here, she takes a moment to fill in Jonathan Grinstein, PhD, a Senior Editor at GEN, on the latest news from the first day at the meeting.

Sun, Spatial, and Sequencing: A Video Report from the First Day of AGBT

GEN February 2024 cover

If, by February, you tire of winter, think of it as being less about endings and more about beginnings—beginnings of the sort described in this issue of GEN. It highlights several fresh starts. Mass spectrometry is beginning to support proteomic research at the single-cell level. Psychedelic drug research, once frozen by legal strictures, is seeing a thaw, one enhanced by the introduction of safer molecules and more convenient regimens. And look for more greening in biomanufacturing, where sustainability metrics are taking root, encouraging investments in technologies that use energy, water, and raw materials more sparingly. Also, continued growth in RNA medicines seems assured now that stability and deliverability challenges are being overcome. Even so dark a subject as antimicrobial resistance admits some light, thanks to innovative companies that are defying the well-known economic disincentives and developing new interventions. Finally, as our A-List of takeover targets indicates, a spring of M&A activity is anticipated.