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Gene editing prospects for treating inherited retinal diseases
  1. Daniela Benati,
  2. Clarissa Patrizi,
  3. Alessandra Recchia
  1. Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alessandra Recchia, Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena 41125, Italy; alessandra.recchia{at}


Retinal diseases (RD) include inherited retinal dystrophy (IRD), for example, retinitis pigmentosa and Leber’s congenital amaurosis, or multifactorial forms, for example, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). IRDs are clinically and genetically heterogeneous in nature. To date, more than 200 genes are known to cause IRDs, which perturb the development, function and survival of rod and cone photoreceptors or retinal pigment epithelial cells. Conversely, AMD, the most common cause of blindness in the developed world, is an acquired disease of the macula characterised by progressive visual impairment. To date, available therapeutic approaches for RD include nutritional supplements, neurotrophic factors, antiangiogenic drugs for wet AMD and gene augmentation/interference strategy for IRDs. However, these therapies do not aim at correcting the genetic defect and result in inefficient and expensive treatments. The genome editing technology based on clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated protein (Cas) and an RNA that guides the Cas protein to a predetermined region of the genome, represents an attractive strategy to tackle IRDs without available cure. Indeed, CRISPR/Cas system can permanently and precisely replace or remove genetic mutations causative of a disease, representing a molecular tool to cure a genetic disorder. In this review, we will introduce the mechanism of CRISPR/Cas system, presenting an updated panel of Cas variants and delivery systems, then we will focus on applications of CRISPR/Cas genome editing in the retina, and, as emerging treatment options, in patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells followed by transplantation of retinal progenitor cells into the eye.

  • inherited retinal disease
  • CRISPR/Cas genome editing

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  • Contributors AR conceived the idea. AR and DB wrote the manuscript. CP contributed to performing the literature collection and assisted in writing the manuscript. All the authors gave the final approval of the manuscript submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.