Groundbreaking Method of Editing DNA Could Treat Incurable Diseases, Prolong Lifespan

Posted on December 12, 2016 by Disability Help Group

A recent breakthrough in medical technology is the ability to alter and repair DNA. The current method, CRISPR, cannot alter the DNA in eye, brain, heart, and liver cells. The difference has to do with the cells’ ability to divide. CRISPR works best with cells still capable of dividing, while the new method, HITI, alters the DNA of cells previously incapable of dividing.

Most adult cells have finished dividing, and over time will develop mutations related to the aging process or disease. The HITI method has allowed doctors to repair these damaged DNA segments in living animals, which creates the potential for treating age-related and incurable diseases.

Researchers at the Salk Institute used the HITI method to treat rats with a genetic eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa. This disease, which is also present in humans, causes blindness over time.

The study, published in Nature, found that altering the rats’ DNA allowed the rats to regain some vision.

Clinical human trials are still a long way off because further research and analysis must ensure there are no unwanted DNA cuts at other sites in the treated area. Still, researchers across the globe are heralding this breakthrough as a new era of treating incurable diseases and as a potential method of fixing genetic disorders before they occur.

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