Delivery of Tissue-Targeted Scalpels: Opportunities and Challenges for in Vivo CRISPR/Cas-Based Genome Editing

Tuo Wei, Qiang Cheng, Lukas Farbiak, Daniel G. Anderson, Robert Langer, Daniel J. Siegwart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing has quickly emerged as a powerful breakthrough technology for use in diverse settings across biomedical research and therapeutic development. Recent efforts toward understanding gene modification methods in vitro have led to substantial improvements in ex vivo genome editing efficiency. Because disease targets for genomic correction are often localized in specific organs, realization of the full potential of genomic medicines will require delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 systems targeting specific tissues and cells directly in vivo. In this Perspective, we focus on progress toward in vivo delivery of CRISPR/Cas components. Viral and nonviral delivery systems are both promising for gene editing in diverse tissues via local injection and systemic injection. We describe the various viral vectors and synthetic nonviral materials used for in vivo gene editing and applications to research and therapeutic models, and summarize opportunities and progress to date for both methods. We also discuss challenges for viral delivery, including overcoming limited packaging capacity, immunogenicity associated with multiple dosing, and the potential for off-target effects, and nonviral delivery, including efforts to increase efficacy and to expand utility of nonviral carriers for use in extrahepatic tissues and cancer. Looking ahead, additional advances in the safety and efficiency of viral and nonviral delivery systems for tissue- and cell-type-specific gene editing will be required to enable broad clinical translation. We provide a summary of current delivery systems used for in vivo genome editing, organized with respect to route of administration, and highlight immediate opportunities for biomedical research and applications. Furthermore, we discuss current challenges for in vivo delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 systems to guide the development of future therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9243-9262
Number of pages20
JournalACS Nano
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 25 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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