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May 21, 2020

Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Foster Holds Bipartisan Briefing on Using CRISPR Technologies for COVID-19

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a bipartisan briefing with Dr. Charles Chiu, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Infectious Diseases and Director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center at UCSF School of Medicine; Dr. Philip Santangelo, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the Principal Investigator at the Laboratory of Spatial Biology at Georgia Institute of Technology; and Dr. Feng Zhang, Core Institute Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and Professor of Neuroscience at MIT on the scientific community’s utilization of CRISPR-based technologies to develop new diagnostic tests and therapeutics for COVID-19.

“Scientific breakthroughs from decades of fundamental research are the only reason we have a fighting chance against COVID-19.  Our hearing today highlights the contributions of one of those breakthroughs, CRISPR, both as a potential therapeutic and to provide rapid and simple testing for the COVID-19 virus.” said Chairman Bill Foster (D-IL) of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. “Access to widespread, quality testing for COVID-19 is crucial as our Nation makes decisions about resuming daily activities. I am grateful for our experts today in sharing their research on COVID-19 testing and how CRISPR could be applied beyond our current crisis.”

The Members and panelists discussed CRISPR test capabilities for COVID-19 compared to existing testing technology, when CRISPR tests and therapeutics will be available for public use, how to balance new tools with the use of traditional methods, and considering the virus’s ability to mutate, how CRISPR technologies can help us prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 as a seasonal virus.

“Testing and tracing the novel coronavirus is crucial if we are to bring an end to this deadly pandemic and prevent future outbreaks,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “With current testing capacity far below what scientists and health professionals recommend, it has never been more important to invest in innovative diagnostics and technologies.”