Gene Editing: What’s on the Horizon?

(DGIwire) – The ability to edit genes has dramatically expanded the potential and possibilities of medicine. In recent years, for example, a prominent spotlight has been placed on CRISPR technology, a simple yet powerful tool that allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function, according to LiveScience.com. What might the future bring for this and related techniques?

“Several predictions can be made regarding the increasing role of CRISPR in the life sciences,” says Jeffrey Duchemin, President and CEO of Harvard Bioscience. “It is clear, for example, that advances will be made in tandem with innovations in the platforms made available to researchers.”

In a recent article in LaboratoryEquipment.com, the two authors—Evelyne Celerier of Harvard Bioscience and Michele Ng of Harvard Bioscience’s subsidiary BTX—expanded on this sentiment. The article suggests that advances in CRISPR gene-editing techniques are making it more efficient to make small changes in a single target gene, to knock-in or replace whole genes, or to edit multiple different genes at the same time in a single step. The technique is also being further refined to make it more precise and to limit the chances of getting unintended mutations in off-target areas of the cell’s genome. She also suggests that the target cells and tissues to which researchers may deliver CRISPR gene-editing tools will continue to expand by using more sophisticated transfection techniques such as electroporation.

Furthermore, the article explains that the potential and use of CRISPR is facilitated by electroporation instruments, which address the challenges of CRISPR using traditional methods. Currently available electroporation equipment is tailored to fit different types of applications depending on the researcher’s target cell or tissue types. Square wave electroporation systems such as the BTX ECM 830 are ideal for transfecting mammalian cells and tissues, whereas exponential decay wave systems such as the BTX ECM 630 are ideal for transforming bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms. Currently available electroporation equipment is tailored to fit different types of applications depending on the researcher’s target cell or tissue types. Square wave electroporation systems such as the BTX ECM 830 are ideal for transfecting mammalian cells and tissues, whereas exponential decay wave systems such as the BTX ECM 630 are ideal for transforming bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms.

For laboratories that need to universally transfect or transform all cell types of organisms, instruments that offer both square and exponential decay waveforms such as the BTX Gemini Twin Wave Electroporator offer both square and exponential decay modes for universal electroporation of any sample. In addition, the article explains, electrofusion equipment such as the ECM 2001+ offer more complex combinations of alternating current and square waveforms that may be employed in cell fusion and embryo manipulation. These types of instruments are best suited for applications of CRISPR gene editing to create transgenic research animals.

“The future of gene editing is appears bright, as does the potential for more effective treatments it could help foster,” Duchemin adds.

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