In the decade since the publication of CRISPR-Cas9 as a genome editing technology, the CRISPR toolbox and its applications have profoundly changed biological research, enabling advances through applications in plants, animals, and humans. In a Review, Joy Wang and Jennifer Doudna highlight 10 years of CRISPR genome editing, discussing the technique's important advances, current limitations, and promising potential for the future.
Leveraging the core component of the bacterial immune system, the development of CRISPR genome editing tools, including CRISPR-Cas9, has allowed researchers to precisely edit and rewrite the genetic code in almost any organism. Not only have the applications of CRISPR technology laid the foundation for clinical trials of therapies for rare and intractable diseases, including sickle cell disease, they have also enabled agricultural advances like the development of a more nutritious CRISPR-edited tomato.
Wang and Doudna review how the last 10 years of CRISPR technology have focused largely on building the platforms for CRISPR-induced gene knockouts, creating knockout mice and other animal models, genetic screening, and multiplex genome-editing. These uses have led to success stories in various fields. However, challenges remain. Efforts to improve editing accuracy and precision and the targeted delivery of CRISPR editors are ongoing.
What's more, debates concerning cost, regulation, and access, which include the ethical and societal challenges of the technology, remain to be fully addressed. "In the decade ahead, genome editing research and applications will continue to accelerate and will increasingly intersect with technologies including machine learning, live cell imaging, and faster, cheaper DNA sequencing," write the authors. "Just as the past decade has focused on CRISPR platforms, the decade ahead will increasingly apply those platforms for real-world impacts."
Wang, J.Y., et al. (2023) CRISPR technology turns ten: a decade of genome editing is only the beginning. Science. doi.org/10.1126/science.add8643.