Scientists have recently created a new technique, which can treat almost all inherited human diseases. The new phenomenon is called ‘prime editing’ and is used to rewrite genes more precisely. It aims to overcome some of the drawbacks of the CRISPR, a technology used to editing genomes. CRISPR is defined as a molecular scissor for editing genes. However, David Liu, a biologist at Harvard said that it is quite difficult to make precise changes in most cell types through molecular scissors. The new prime editing tool has been created in research led by Andrew Anzalone. It has been described as an advanced tool for rewriting genes.
Unlike CRISPR, prime editing does not depend on cells’ ability to divide to make the required changes in DNA, which is one of the more desired advantages of the new tool. Scientists can use this tool to correct a genetic mutation in the cells of the nervous system, which often do not divide. Several mental disorders are caused by genetic mutations such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. This new technique does not slash both filaments of the DNA double helix, which reduces the risk of making unintended changes in the cells. Prime editors are competent enough to locate targeted DNA sequences and precisely reinstate the edited version of DNA strands.
Scientists have already used the new approach to carry out more than 175 edits in human cells in the laboratory, which includes fixing genetic disorders like Tay-Sachs and sickle cell disease. Some of the doctors are also trying to use CRISPR to treat sickle cell disorder. Prime editing is a milestone achievement in the field where scientists can make any kind of DNA changes at any site in the human genome, said David Liu. Other researchers also feel that prime editing is a game changer technique. On the other hand, technologists also stress that it will need a lot more research to understand how proficiently prime editing works. Scientists have also pointed out that like any other powerful tools this new phenomenon can also be misused.