Casgevy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Genetic Medicine

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November 28, 2023

Casgevy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Genetic Medicine

How gene therapy will revolutionise treatment of sickle cell disease |  Explained News - The Indian Express


  • The recent sanctioning of Casgevy, an innovative gene therapy utilizing Crispr-Cas9 technology, by UK health authorities marks an epoch-making advancement in medical science. This groundbreaking therapy offers a promising avenue for a lifelong remedy for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia, instilling renewed optimism and transformative possibilities within the realm of genetic medicine.

Unveiling Casgevy: Pioneering Gene Editing

  • Casgevy holds the distinction of being the world’s maiden licensed gene therapy employing Crispr-Cas9 technology, a breakthrough honored with the Nobel Prize in 2020. This pioneering therapy takes aim at the flawed genes responsible for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia, envisioning a prospect of a lifelong cure, a monumental shift from the erstwhile treatment methods reliant on finding a compatible bone marrow donor.

Unraveling the Mechanism of Action

  • The genetic aberrations triggering sickle cell disease and thalassaemia originate from anomalies within the haemoglobin gene, impeding the normal structure and function of red blood cells. Casgevy operates by harnessing the patient’s blood stem cells, precisely modified using Crispr-Cas9 technology with a particular focus on rectifying the BCL11A gene. This approach aims to enhance the production of foetal haemoglobin, circumventing irregularities present in adult haemoglobin and alleviating symptoms associated with these debilitating conditions.

Understanding Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassaemia

  • Sickle cell disease manifests through crescent-shaped red blood cells, disrupting blood flow and causing intense pain, infections, anaemia, and even strokes. In India, an annual influx of 30,000-40,000 children grapple with this condition. Thalassaemia, on the other hand, results in decreased haemoglobin levels, leading to fatigue, breathlessness, irregular heartbeats, necessitating lifelong blood transfusions and chelation therapy. India harbors the world’s largest population of children afflicted with thalassaemia major, estimated at 1-1.5 lakh.

Clinical Triumph: Results and Implications

  • Clinical trials of Casgevy demonstrated remarkable outcomes, showcasing a substantial reduction in severe pain crises among participants with sickle cell disease. Those afflicted with thalassaemia experienced a notable 70% decrease in the requirement for blood transfusions, underlining the therapy’s efficacy and potential for widespread impact.

Administration Challenges and Future Outlook

  • Casgevy entails a one-time treatment procedure involving the collection of bone marrow blood stem cells via apheresis, followed by meticulous editing and testing spanning roughly six months. Challenges encompass the anticipated high cost of approximately $2 million per patient and the logistical hurdle of transporting blood stem cells due to the absence of local manufacturing facilities. Despite these challenges, experts anticipate ongoing research to drive down costs and foresee the emergence of local manufacturing facilities, augmenting accessibility.

Future Horizons: Beyond Casgevy’s Approval

  • Experts hold firm in their belief that continuous research endeavors will lead to cost reductions, rendering the therapy more accessible globally. Concurrently, researchers in India are actively pursuing gene therapies for sickle cell disease, with imminent clinical trials anticipated in the ensuing years.


  • Casgevy’s approval signifies a watershed moment in genetic medicine, heralding a new era of hope and possibilities for those grappling with sickle cell disease and thalassaemia. With its potential for lifelong cures and ongoing research promising accessibility enhancements, the therapy represents a monumental stride towards addressing these debilitating conditions on a global scale.

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Casgevy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Genetic Medicine | Vaid ICS Institute