Rub-on gene therapy, and safeguarding email memories


The news: Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved sales of the first gene therapy that is directly applied to the body—as well as the first intended to be used on the same person repeatedly.

How it works: The treatment introduces a missing gene to skin cells so they can make collagen. It’s already helping people with dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a rare inherited disease that makes skin incredibly fragile. The topical ointment helps to heal the disease’s chron ic, blistering wounds, while an eyedrop version can prevent scar tissue from building up in their eyeballs and improve their vision.

The next steps: The gene treatment is unusual as it doesn’t involve injection or altering immune cells outside the body. It suggests similar approaches could have lucrative applications. The biggest question right now, however, is how much it will cost the families who ne edit it. Read the full story.

—Antonio Regalado

How to preserve your digital memories

—Tate Ryan-Mosley

My email archive holds treasured messages marking the important days of my life: a letter of acceptance to graduate school, travel plans with my sisters, a job offer at Tech Review, an invitation to reconnect with a close friend with whom I’d lost touch .

I’ve never thought all that much about what to do with all these digital records. I have had a sort of expectation that I’ll always be able to access and manage my emails on my own terms. And while I don’t currently save particularly important ones, I probably need to change that.



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