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Genome editing for Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a glimpse of the future?

Gene Ther. 2021 Feb 2. doi: 10.1038/s41434-021-00222-4. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33531685.

Authors/Editors: Kupatt C, Windisch A, Moretti A, Wolf E, Wurst W, Walter MC.
Publication Date: 2021


Mutations in Dystrophin, one of the largest proteins in the mammalian body, are causative for a severe form of muscle disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), affecting not only skeletal muscle, but also the heart. In particular, exons 45–52 constitute a hotspot for DMD mutations. A variety of molecular therapies have been developed, comprising vectors encoding micro- and minidystrophins as well as utrophin, a protein with partially overlapping functions. With the advent of the CRISPR-Cas9-nuclease, genome editing offers a novel option of correction of the disease-cuasing mutations. Full restoration of the healthy gene by homology directed repair is a rare event. However, non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) may restore the reading frame by causing exon excision. This approach has first been demonstrated in mice and then translated to large animals (dogs, pigs). This review discusses the potential opportunities and limitations of genome editing in DMD, including the generation of appropriate animal models as well as new developments in genome editing tools.


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