The recent explosive outbreak of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has been reported in South and Central America and the Caribbean. Neonatal microcephaly associated with ZIKV infection has already caused a public health emergency of international concern. No specific vaccines or drugs are currently available to treat ZIKV infection. The ZIKV helicase, which plays a pivotal role in viral RNA replication, is an attractive target for therapy.

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Genome editing tools such as the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated system (Cas) have been widely used to modify genes in model systems including animal zygotes and human cells, and hold tremendous promise for both basic research and clinical applications. To date, a serious knowledge gap remains in our understanding of DNA repair mechanisms in human early embryos, and in the efficiency and potential off-target effects of using technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 in human pre-implantation embryos.