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Gene Editing


About gene editing 

Gene editing is an approach that allows scientists to make precise changes to a cell’s DNA. Several technologies allow scientists to cut DNA at specific spots, like scissors, so they can add, remove, or change genetic material where it is cut. 

Gene editing can target somatic cells (any cell excluding egg and sperm cells) or germline cells (egg and sperm cells). Editing somatic cells only affects the individual treated, while germline edits may be passed to future generations. There are ethical considerations with germline editing as its impact can go beyond the person treated, and it is illegal in many countries.


Some gene editing treatments can modify cells in the body, while others involve extracting and then treating cells externally before returning them into the body. 

A relatively well-known gene editing technology is CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), in which scientists code small particles, called nucleases, to recognize and make small “cuts” at precise sections of DNA. Genetic material can then be added, deleted, or replaced. CRISPR is faster, cheaper, and more accurate and efficient than other gene editing technologies. 

Next   Learn more about the goal of gene editing and how it works