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Trends Genet. 2018 Aug;34(8):600-611. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2018.05.004. Epub 2018 Jun 13.

Gene Editing on Center Stage.

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Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS), Aarhus University, DK-8000 Aarhus C., Denmark; Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, DK-8000 Aarhus C., Denmark.
Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Electronic address:


Smithies et al. (1985) and Jasin and colleagues (1994) provided proof of concept that homologous recombination (HR) could be applied to the treatment of human disease and that its efficiency could be improved by the induction of double-strand breaks (DSBs). A key advance was the discovery of engineered nucleases, such as zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) and transcription activator-like (TAL) effector nucleases (TALENs), that can generate site-specific DSBs. The democratization and widespread use of genome editing was enabled by the discovery of the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 nuclease system. While genome editing using ZFNs and TALENs has already reached clinical trials, the pace at which genome editing enters human trials is bound to accelerate in the next several years with multiple promising preclinical studies heralding cures for monogenic diseases that are currently difficult to manage or even incurable. Here we review recent advances and current limitations and discuss the path forward using genome editing to understand, treat, and cure genetic diseases.


CRISPR–Cas9; gene therapy; genome editing; homologous recombination

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