Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats: Challenges in Treating Retinal Disease

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Abstract

Ophthalmic researchers and clinicians arguably have led the way for safe, effective gene therapy, most notably with adeno-associated viral gene supplementation in the treatment for patients with Leber congenital amaurosis type 2 with mutations in the RPE65 gene. These successes notwithstanding, most other genetic retinal disease will be refractory to supplementation. The ideal gene therapy approach would correct gene mutations to restore normal function in the affected cells. Gene editing in which a mutant allele is inactivated or converted to sequence that restores normal function is hypothetically one such approach. Such editing involves site-specific digestion of mutant genomic DNA followed by repair. Previous experimental approaches were hampered by inaccurate and high rates of off-site lesioning and by overall low digestion rates. A new tool, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats coupled with the nuclease Cas9, may address both shortcomings. Some of the many challenges that must be addressed in moving clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats coupled with the nuclease Cas9 therapies to the ophthalmic clinic are discussed here.

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