New gene editing technology could correct over 80% of genetic defects

Zack Rogers, Contributor

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Scientists have developed a new gene-editing technology that could potentially correct up to 89% of genetic defects, including those that cause diseases like sickle cell anemia. The new technique is called “prime editing,” and was developed by researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who published their findings Monday in the journal Nature. Prime editing builds on powerful CRISPR gene editing, but is more precise and versatile — it “directly writes new genetic information into a specified DNA site,” according to the paper. “With prime editing, we can now directly correct the sickle-cell anemia mutation back to the normal sequence and remove the four extra DNA bases that cause Tay Sachs disease, without cutting DNA entirely or needing DNA templates,” said David Liu. The team of researchers will now continue working to hone the technique, trying to maximize its efficiency in various cell types and exploring any potential effects on the cells. They will also continue testing on different models of diseases to ultimately “provide a potential path for human therapeutic applications,”. They listed ethical concerns and pointed to Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who claimed to have made gene edits when creating two AIDS-resistant babies last year. He’s work, which could have unforeseen consequences, has been internationally condemned and called “abominable in nature” by Chinese authorities.

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Information from: CNN

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