Gene Editing in Clinical Practice: Where are We?

  • Rama Devi MittalEmail author
Review Article


Multitude of gene-altering capabilities in combination with ease of design and low cost have all led to the adoption of the sophisticated and yet simple gene editing system that are clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein 9 (CRISPR). The CRISPR/Cas9 system holds promise for the correction of deleterious mutations by taking advantage of the homology directed repair pathway and by supplying a correction template to the affected patient’s cells. CRISPR is a tool that allows researchers to edit genes very precisely, easily and quickly. It does this by harnessing a mechanism that already existed in bacteria. Basically, there’s a protein that acts like a scissors and cuts the DNA, and there’s an RNA molecule that directs the scissors to any point on the genome one wants which results basically a word processor for genes. An entire gene can be taken out, put one in, or even edit just a single letter within a gene. Several platforms for molecular scissors that enable targeted genome engineering have been developed, including zinc-finger nucleases, transcription activator-like effector nucleases and, most recently, CRISPR/CRISPR-associated-9 (Cas9). The CRISPR/Cas9 system’s simplicity, facile engineering and amenability to multiplexing make it the system of choice for many applications. CRISPR/Cas9 has been used to generate disease models to study genetic diseases. Improvements are urgently needed for various aspects of the CRISPR/Cas9 system, including the system’s precision, delivery and control over the outcome of the repair process. However, there are still some glitches to be mended like how to regulate gene drives and its safeguards. The creation of gene knockouts is one of the first and most widely used applications of the CRISPR–Cas9 system. Nuclease-active Cas9 creates a double-strand break at the single guide RNA-targeted locus. These breaks can be repaired by homologous recombination, which can be used to introduce new mutations. When the double-strand break is repaired by the error-prone nonhomologous end joining process, indels are introduced which can produce frame shifts and stop codons, leading to functional knockout of the gene. Precedence modification have to be done on mechanism of CRISPR/Cas9, including its biochemical and structural implications incorporating the latest improvements in the CRISPR/Cas9 system, especially Cas9 protein modifications for customization. Current applications, where the versatile CRISPR/Cas9 system is to be used to edit the genome, epigenome, or RNA of various organisms is debated. Although CRISPR/Cas9 allows convenient genome editing accompanied by many benefits, one should not ignore the significant ethical and biosafety concerns that it raises. Conclusively lot of prospective applications and challenges of several promising techniques adapted from CRISPR/Cas9. Is discussed. Although many mechanistic questions remain to be answered and several challenges to be addressed yet, the use of CRISPR–Cas9-based genome technologies will increase our knowledge of disease process and their treatment in near future. Undoubtedly this field is revolutionizing in current era and may open new vistas in the treatment of fatal genetic disease.


Genome editing CASPR Cas9 systems Molecular scissors Palindromic repeats Nucleases Gene targeting Gene therapy embryo Ethics Potential pitfalls 


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Copyright information

© Association of Clinical Biochemists of India 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urology and Renal TransplantationSanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical SciencesLucknowIndia

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