DOI: 10.5858/arpa.2022-0410-cp ISSN:

A Primer on Gene Editing: What Does It Mean for Pathologists?

Allison Cushman-Vokoun, Ryan J. Schmidt, Matthew Charles Hiemenz, Mark Fung, Bing Melody Zhang, Georganne Bradshaw, Manish Gandhi, JinJuan Yao, Sophia Yohe, Amy Beckman, Wayne W. Grody, Petros Giannikopoulos
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • General Medicine
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Gene editing–based therapies are currently in development in the areas of oncology, inherited disease, and infectious disease. These potentially life-altering therapies are derived from decades of research in both academic and industry settings that developed technologies rooted in principles and products of nature. However, with such technologic developments come many important considerations, including adverse risks, high cost, and ethical questions.


To educate pathologists about gene editing technologies, inform them of potential indications and risks, outline regulatory and practical issues that could affect hospital-based practice and laboratory testing, and advocate that pathologists need to be present at discussions among industry and regulators pertaining to gene editing–based therapies.


A Gene Editing Workgroup, facilitated by the College of American Pathologists Personalized Health Care Committee and consisting of pathologists of various backgrounds, was convened to develop an educational paper to serve as a stimulus to increase pathologist involvement and inquiry in gene editing therapeutic and diagnostic implementation.


Through multiple discussions and literature review, the workgroup identified potential gaps in pathologists' knowledge of gene editing. Additional topics that could impact pathology and laboratory medicine were also identified and summarized in order to facilitate pathologists as stakeholders in gene editing therapy administration and monitoring and potential use in diagnostics.


Gene editing therapy is a complex but potentially transformative area of medicine. This article serves as an introduction to pathologists to assist them in future discussions with colleagues and potentially identify and alter pathology practices that relate to gene editing.

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