To cut or not to cut: Next-generation genome editors for precision genome engineering

Meng Zhang, Zhixin Zhu, Guanhua Xun, Huimin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Since the original report of repurposing the CRISPR/Cas9 system for genome engineering, the past decade has witnessed profound improvement in our ability to efficiently manipulate the mammalian genome. However, significant challenges lie ahead that hinder the translation of CRISPR-based gene editing technologies into safe and effective therapeutics. The CRISPR systems often have a limited target scope due to PAM restrictions, and the off-target activity also poses serious risks for therapeutic applications. Moreover, the first-generation genome editors typically achieve desired genomic modifications by inducing double-strand breaks (DSBs) at target site(s). Despite being highly efficient, this “cut and fix” strategy is less favorable in clinical settings due to drawbacks associated with the nuclease-induced DSBs. In this review, we focus on recent advances that help address these challenges, including the engineering and discovery of novel CRISPR/Cas systems with improved functionalities and the development of DSB-free genome editors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100489
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Base editor
  • CRISPR/Cas
  • Genome engineering
  • Prime editor
  • Synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials


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