Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked progressive muscle-wasting disorder that is caused by a lack of functional dystrophin, a cytoplasmic protein necessary for the structural integrity of muscle. As variants in the dystrophin gene lead to a disruption of the reading frame, pharmacological treatments have only limited efficacy; there is currently no effective therapy and consequently, a significant unmet clinical need for DMD. Recently, novel genetic approaches have shown real promise in treating DMD, with advancements in the efficacy and tropism of exon skipping and surrogate gene therapy. CRISPR-Cas9 has the potential to be a 'one-hit' curative treatment in the coming decade. The current limitations of gene editing, such as off-target effects and immunogenicity, are in fact partly constraints of the delivery method itself, and thus research focus has shifted to improving the viral vector. In order to halt the loss of ambulation, early diagnosis and treatment will be pivotal. In an era where genetic sequencing is increasingly utilised in the clinic, genetic therapies will play a progressively central role in DMD therapy. This review delineates the relative merits of cutting-edge genetic approaches, as well as the challenges that still need to be overcome before they become clinically viable.
Eur J Hum Genet