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Podcast: The Gene-Editing Company That Didn't Need CRISPR


Sangamo’s innovations recently earned it $3 billion. Why? But first, the CRISPR origin story.

CRISPR. TALEN. Gene editing. It sounds like the stuff of the future, the keys that open the door to a new frontier in medicine. But what about zinc finger nucleases?

Amid all the CRISPR hype and pushback, zinc finger nucleases have mostly flown under the radar, but they are very much a promising player in the gene-editing landscape. And just one company—Sangamo Therapeutics—is using zinc fingers in this way, an arrangement created by its forward-thinking leaders and their aggressive acquisition of intellectual property.

Today on Data Book, we tell the story of Sangamo and its fascinating zinc finger technologies. Along the way, co-hosts Jack Murtha and Tom Castles tackle bigger ideas in precision medicine and gene editing, exploring the gold rush surrounding the industry and its promise and pitfalls.

Our guest is writer Danny Funt. He reported and wrote a top-shelf feature story on Sangamo for Healthcare Analytics News™. You can read his impressive piece here. (Worth noting is that Funt spent more than a month researching genomic medicine, searching for the ideal candidate to profile, before selecting Sangamo. We ultimately published the story online just a day before Sangamo announced a $3 billion partnership with Gilead. We tip our hats to Funt and his sharp reporting instincts.)

>> Read: Lost in the CRISPR Hype, a Gene-Editing Giant Is Fighting Back

Before Data Book dives into the Sangamo story, however, we tell the story of the origins of CRISPR. It dates back to the late 1980s, in a beach town in Spain. An amazing discovery that occurred there blossomed into a movement that gripped researchers, commercial ventures, and the mainstream public. But what might CRISPR mean for medicine?

Tune in to this episode of Data Book and find out.

And come back next week for a story of cultural change in healthcare. Our guest will be tech-centric cardiologist and media personality Kevin Campbell, MD.

Listen and subscribe to Data Book on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and all of your favorite podcasting apps. We publish new episodes on the best stories and insights in big data, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity at 8 a.m. every Friday.

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