Meet Victoria Gray, The Thriving Sickle Cell Patient Who Was The First To Be Treated With CRISPR Gene Editing
Photo Credit: Meredith Rizzo / NPR

Meet Victoria Gray, The Thriving Sickle Cell Patient Who Was The First To Be Treated With CRISPR Gene Editing

When used for good, technology can be life-changing!

According to NPR, the first sickle cell patient to be treated with CRISPR gene editing is still thriving nearly a year following her trial of the experimental treatment.

“I’m doing great,” shared 36-year-old Victoria Gray in an interview of an update of her status since undergoing the treatments.

Thanks to the technology that genetically modified her blood cells to keep them working, Gray is now free from complications that have taken over her life since birth.

Life With Sickle Cell

Sickle cell disease has plagued the Black community at alarming rates for decades and because of it, Gray was limited to normal things such as taking care of herself and her children. Blood transfusions and powerful pain medications were second nature to Gray who has lived with sickle cell since she was a baby.

Now, thanks to CRISPR gene-editing treatments, Gray says things continue to look up for her.

“I haven’t had any problems with sickle cell at all,” she continued. “I did get a cold about a week ago.”

Something as simple as a cold can be traumatizing for people like Gray, who are living with the disease. A common cold can trigger a terrible attack followed by painful symptoms of the disease.

What Is CRISPR?

This landmark study that Gray volunteered for has changed her life for the better.

Through the revolutionary gene-editing technique known as CRISPR, scientists were able to make precise changes to Gray’s DNA, which in turn changed the way that her body reacted to the disease.

Doctors infused billions of the modified cells back into her body with the hope that the editing cells could create fetal hemoglobin, a protein that would alleviate the symptoms of the sickle cell for Gray.

“It really changes patients’ lives,” said the head of the study, Dr. Haydar Frangoul, of the Sarah Cannon Research Institute located in Nashville, Tennessee. “You can see the change almost immediately after patients leave the hospital, where they are feeling better and able to resume their lives normally without the horrible complications that can happen.”

Along with Gray, at least 45 patients with sickle cell and a related condition called beta-thalassemia have been treated, and data reports that the treatments are working for at least 22 of them.