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Bridge Editing: The Cutting-Edge Technique for Modifying DNA

Originally published on: La Voce Di Newyork

Terra Medica - SHRO
DNA Test: Credit - Ansa

Approved in Europe, the CRISPR/Cas 9 technology has revolutionized the world of genetic engineering. However, a study recently published by Nature has reported the “Bridge Editing” system, which allows  changes to the genome better than the CRISPR can do. Dr. Patrick Hsu of the Arc Institute in California, who has discovered this technology has expressed great enthusiasm for the result that could bring phenomenal changes in DNA editing, although he has stated that it is not yet clear how this system will work human cells as in fact this observation has been limited to bacterial cells or test tubes.

Unlike Crisp, which cuts DNA, Bridge Editing physically connects two  DNA sequences like a “bridge,” allowing DNA of any length to be inserted and edited.

Even New Scientist , through the words of Stephen Tang of Columbia University, expressed "great anticipation" in studying to what extent and under which conditions the Bridge Editing system will work in complex cells like humans.

The CRISPR/CAS9 gene editing system, using the Cas 9 protein, which is just one of many CRISPR systems, was first presented by Nobel Prize winners Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna who demonstrated a way to delete, modify or insert any gene sequence, through proteins capable of exchanging pieces of DNA in a process of genetic recombination. Bridge editing, on the other hand, offers a level of control that could be used in human cells to “intervene” on “defective” sequences that cause hereditary, rare or orphan diseases, with many advantages as in fact it can be possibly used for the modification of entire chromosomes, limitation of unwanted side effects, and versatile use in the modification of plant and animal genomes. It is clear that this is a system still in the development phase and the risk of “unwanted mutations” is high. This type of intervention requires caution and years of study for safety and ethics of the procedure. However, this process could represent the future of genetic engineering, but we have to take into account its normative and ethical issues.

During the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, the main focus was on examining its implications in health, ethical and economic fields.

Intervening in a precise way on DNA can mean “a solution and a hope” for those who suffer from neurological, infectious and genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy and beta thalassemia, or cystic fibrosis, or can provide a cure for osteogenesis imperfecta, associated with fragile bones, which tend to break like crystals, due to a genetic malformation. This technology might represent a chance for many patients affected by rare and orphan diseases, which are neglected for economic reasons.

Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., is the creator and head of the Sbarro Health Research Organization, located at Temple University's College of Science and Technology in Philadelphia. Stay connected with him through his various social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, to receive the latest updates.


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