Muscular dystrophies are debilitating disorders that result in progressive weakness and degeneration of skeletal muscle. Although the genetic mutations and clinical abnormalities of a variety of neuromuscular diseases are well known, no curative therapies have been developed to date. The advent of genome editing technology provides new opportunities to correct the underlying mutations responsible for many monogenic neuromuscular diseases. For example, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, has been successfully corrected in mice, dogs, and human cells through CRISPR/Cas9 editing. In this Review, we focus on the potential for, and challenges of, correcting muscular dystrophies by editing disease-causing mutations at the genomic level. Ideally, because muscle tissues are extremely long-lived, CRISPR technology could offer a one-time treatment for muscular dystrophies by correcting the culprit genomic mutations and enabling normal expression of the repaired gene.
Francesco Chemello, Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Eric N. Olson