Experts from the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard successfully designed a new type of prime editing that can install or swap out gene-sized DNA sequences. This breakthrough is published in Nature Biotechnology.
Prime editing was first developed in 2019 for precise edits in human cells, including small substitutions, insertions, and deletions. In their latest study, the team came up with twin prime editing (twinPE) which makes two adjacent prime edits to introduce larger sequences of DNA at particular areas in the genome with reduced unwanted byproducts. With additional refinements in the method, it could potentially be applied in gene therapy to insert therapeutic genes safely and precisely to substitute mutated or missing genes that cause abnormalities or disease. The team tested the new technique to treat Hunter syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
This breakthrough is vital because treatment of genetic diseases often requires large edits. The original prime editing system allows editing or several dozen base pairs only.
(Source: Crop Biotech Update, International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.