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DNA strands coming apart

The latest in a long series of papers has been published, detailing unintended effects of CRISPR gene editing. The new review summarises the many types of serious unintended on-target (at the intended edit site) DNA damage resulting from CRISPR/Cas gene editing.

The review appears as the European Commission and the UK government maintain their pretence that gene editing is a precise, predictable, and controllable technique and that food plants made with this technology are therefore as safe as those produced by conventional breeding.

The authors of the new paper, from Rice University in the US, reviewed the literature on CRISPR gene editing in human, primate, and mouse cells. They found that CRISPR-induced double-strand breaks in the DNA caused numerous large unintended on-target genetic damages, including large and small deletions and insertions, and chromosomal rearrangements of genetic material. And they note that even large on-target gene modifications are not detectable by standard methods.

Because the unintended effects of CRISPR gene editing highlighted in the new review are on-target mutations at the intended edit site, improving the targeting of the editing tool...