Gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 has garnered significant amounts of positive press in recent months, as the promise of gene editing could help with medicine and alter DNA for the better. But a new study suggests that CRISPR isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The study, published July 16 in Nature, makes the case that instead of CRISPR being thought of as a pair of “molecular scissors” (as it has been previously called), making surgical precise cuts, it may actually be “blunt” and cause more damage than previously thought.
“This is the first systematic assessment of unexpected events resulting from CRISPR/Cas9 editing in therapeutically relevant cells, and we found that changes in the DNA have been seriously underestimated before now,” said Allan Bradley, one of the authors of the study, in a statement. “It is important that anyone thinking of using this technology for gene therapy proceeds with caution, and looks very carefully to check for possible harmful effects.”