New Gene-Editing Can Fix 89% of Genetic Defects

US scientists reveal a pioneering technique able to fix 89% of the DNA defects that inflicted genetic diseases since the beginning of time. 

Prime editing is the last great leap that science has taken for humankind. The past decade witnessed how gene editing expanded at a tremendous speed and figured a cure for a large number of genetic diseases. 

The “genetic word processor” showed promising outcomes and high accuracy. However, the team at the Broad Institute declared the research is at the beginning of its journey. Dr. Helen O’Neill, from UCL, stated:

The research has been verified in vitro in human cells with an impressive 175 different editing examples including some of the more difficult to edit diseases.

It can successfully re-write the genetic code and repair the harmful variations in one’s DNA, including leukemia, sickle cell anemia, thalassemias, and other blood conditions, where the bone marrow can be extracted and inserted back in.

When It All Began?

Seven years ago, the CRISPR tool was embraced with great enthusiasm by the scientific communities. It provides a vast array of possible uses. It scans DNA to seek the desired change, then with tiny scissors cuts the DNA fragment in two.  

The mechanism is quite simple at first glance. Imagine you press Ctrl-F to find the word that you want to modify, then press Copy and Past to set the new word. Now change “word” with ” DNA sequences.” However, the procedure raised a wave of ethical concerns after the conception of children who are immune to HIV proved to hold unwanted consequences.

Is It Safe?

The biggest fear when it comes to DNA-editing tools was that a single erroneous adjustment could last for generations, affecting the offspring and even the future of humankind. However, prime editing is in the experimental stage and promises a maximum of precision. Dr. Hilary Sheppard, from the University of Auckland, explains that the new technology is already able to spot and repair the DNA fragments that are associated with the disease. Still, it requires more preparation to be used clinically. 

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