LONDON — Victoria Gray had come to Nashville, Tenn., from her home in Mississippi for what was supposed to be a routine checkup. But when a pain crisis struck — an agonizing emergency of sickle cell disease in which Gray’s misshapen red blood cells caught in her blood vessels — the visit became a days-long hospital stay.
It was in the midst of this attack that her doctor told her about a clinical trial for a new kind of treatment, one where CRISPR would be used to alter her blood cells’ DNA, boosting their ability to produce healthy forms of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin and, hopefully, preventing them from deforming and wracking her body with pain. She was warned it had never been done before, and there could be complications. She went home, thought and prayed on it. And in the end, she decided to do it for her family — her husband and four children.