A new gene surgery technique: hope for gene therapy?

Publié le : 11 June 2014

 The technique known as CRISPER-Cas9 has had an “avalanche of publications” in 18 months. It allows the “tailor-made [modification] of any gene from any living organism” right from the stage of development of the first embryo cell.

Using a “molecular kit”, gene expression can be deactivated or activated, modified or repaired. In less than 2 years, several applications involving this technique have come to light: “in cultured human and animal cells as well as in vivo”.

For Professor Alain Fisher who manages the Imagine Institute specialising in genetic diseases at Necker Hospital, the CRISPR-Cas9 engineering tool is an “interesting alternative” to the classical approach of gene therapy because it “is based on the targeted repair of a defective gene”. However this technique must be “completely safe” before it can be used in humans.

French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier has been involved in the technical development of this methodology. She believes it is time to evaluate “the ethical aspects” of this clearly successful technique. 

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