Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, reached news feeds around the globe several years ago thanks to the viral popularity of the "ice-bucket challenge" and the film "The Theory of Everything", which depicts the life of physicist Stephen Hawking and his journey with ALS. People affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) gained a new sign of hope weeks ago as researchers at the University of California, Berkeley used CRISPR-Cas9 genetic editing to disable a gene involved in the development of ALS. By disabling this gene, which is believed to cause about 20% of all hereditary forms of ALS, the researchers effectively delayed the onset of symptoms, which is marked by muscular degeneration, and extended the lifespan of the in vivo models by 25%.

Though this treatment did not cure the mice models, it provides a strong indication of the potential of CRISPR-Cas9 and gene therapy as treatment for ALS. Similar to other CRISPR-focused research, this team of scientists also explore the use of virus delivery vehicles to transport the gene editing tools. For this particular case, adeno-associated virus (AAV) was used, which has relatively low immunogenicity, preventing the subject's immune response from destroying the delivery viruses. CRISPR has already provided a lot of hope and generated much optimism for a wide variety of debilitating diseases. It looks like there is no end in sight as researchers continue to explore its applications.