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).

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