Tremendous advances have occurred in gene editing during the past 20 years with the development of a number of systems. The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein 9 (Cas9) system represents an exciting area of research. This review examines both the relevant studies pertaining to the history, current status, and modifications of this system, in comparison with other gene-editing systems and future applications, and limitations of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system, with a focus on applications of relevance to the surgeon scientist. The CRISPR-Cas9 system was described initially in 2012 for gene editing in bacteria and then in human cells, and since then, a number of modifications have improved the efficiency and specificity of gene editing. Clinical studies have been limited because further research is required to verify its safety in patients. Some clinical trials in oncology have opened, and early studies have shown that gene editing may have a particular role in the field of organ transplantation and in the care of trauma patients. Gene editing is likely to play an important role in future research in many aspects of the surgery arena.
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