VIDEO: Dr. Charis Eng Explains CRISPR-Cas9

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a gene editing system commonly used in research labs. Like an edit/replace feature for correcting misspelled words in a document, CRISPR finds errors, or genetic mutations, in DNA. Then, using an enzyme called Cas9, CRISPR technology edits the error and pastes correct bits of DNA at the site.

Charis Eng, MD, PhD, founding chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute and director of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, sat down with WVIZ's Ideastream to explain the technology.

Dr. Eng remarks that a recent proof-of-concept genetic study* that successfully used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to correct a genetic mutation in preimplantation embryos is "promising." Researchers at the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy at Oregon Health & Science University used CRISPR-Cas9 to target and correct a gene mutation which is known to cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—an inherited cardiac disorder that causes seemingly healthy people to die suddenly. She discusses the two reasons why this discovery is so groundbreaking and what it may mean for the future of genome editing.

Dr. Eng holds the Sondra J. and Stephen R. Hardis Endowed Chair of Cancer Genomic Medicine at Cleveland Clinic.

*Dr. Eng is not an author on this study.