Biomedical Sciences, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine
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With rapid advances in gene editing and gene therapy technologies, the development of genetic, cell, or protein-based cures to disease are no longer the realm of science fiction but that of today’s practice. The impact of these technologies are rapidly bringing them to the veterinary market as both enhanced therapeutics and towards modeling their outcomes for translational application. Simply put, gene editing enables scientists to modify an organism’s DNA a priori through the use of site-specific DNA targeting tools like clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated protein 9 (CRISPR/Cas9). Gene therapy is a broader definition that encompasses the addition of exogenous genetic materials into specific cells to correct a genetic defect. More precisely, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines gene therapy as “a technique that modifies a person’s genes to treat or cure disease” by either (i) replacing a disease-causing gene with a healthy copy of the gene; (ii) inactivating a disease-causing gene that was not functioning properly; or (iii) introducing a new or modified gene into the body to help treat a disease. In some instances, this can be accomplished through direct transfer of DNA or RNA into target cells of interest or more broadly through gene editing. While gene therapy is possible through the simple addition of genetic information into cells of interest, gene editing allows the genome to be reprogrammed intentionally through the deletion of diseased alleles, reconstitution of wild type sequence, or targeted integration of exogenous DNA to impart new function. Cells can be removed from the body, altered, and reinfused, or edited in vivo. Indeed, manufacturing and production efficiencies in gene editing and gene therapy in the 21st century has brought the therapeutic potential of in vitro and in vivo reprogrammed cells, to the front lines of therapeutic intervention (Brooks et al., 2016). For example, CAR-T cell therapy is revolutionizing hematologic cancer care in humans and is being translated to canines by us and others, and gene therapy trials are ongoing for mitral valve disease in dogs.
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Wierson, Wesley A.; Abel, Alex M.; Siegler, Elizabeth L.; Ekker, Stephen C.; Johannes, Chad M.; Kenderian, Saad S.; and Mochel, Jonathan P., "Gene Editing and Gene Therapy: Entering Uncharted Territory in Veterinary Oncology" (2021). Biomedical Sciences Publications. 101.