China Tests CRISPR Gene-Editing On A Human For The First Time

Posted: Nov 16 2016, 5:01am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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China Tests CRISPR Gene-Editing on a Human for the First Time
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  • Chinese Genetic Engineers apply CRISPR Technology on a Human Being

Chinese genetic engineers have applied CRISPR gene-editing technology on a human being for the very first time.

Chinese scientists have introduced genetically-edited cells into a human being via CRISPR-Cas9 technology. This happens to be the first time that CRISPR has been applied on a human being who happens to be a mature adult, according to Nature.

This has led to a biomedical face-off between China and the United States of America. The Chinese hope this genetic snipping will allow the patient upon whom it has been performed to survive his ailment which happens to be lung cancer.

If it proves to be worthwhile, then other cancers could also be treated in this way rather than relying on chemotherapy or radiation.

A group of scientists in the US conducted a study in June 2016. It was funded to the amount of $250 million. It however is awaiting the stamp of approval of the FDA.

This study was meant to alleviate cancer symptoms as well. Various other gene editing technologies have been tried too. One of these showed a positive response in case of an HIV-infected patient.

CRISPR though is a whole different ball game. It involves the snipping out of the gene responsible for the disease.

Theoretically scientists could take out all the genes responsible for cancer from the patient’s body with CRISPR. Thus the cancer never gets a chance to undergo metastasis in the body.

This is something both China and the United States want to accomplish soon. Yet the Chinese are more ambitious than their western counterparts. They want to manufacture the technology in a race against time with the United States.

The United States has many laws that stand in the way of genetic engineering becoming a practical procedure. The rules and regulations ensure that research takes place on limited patients who do not have much longer to live and may be saved from certain death by the experiments.

Besides this, the US scientists are merely testing the safety of this gene-editing treatment rather than seeking it as a cure-all. For one thing, CRISPR is not a 100% accurate method.

Many times it encounters a glitch or two and the wrong genes get snipped off. This in fact causes cancer rather than doing away with it. So, care is of the essence.

Among the diseases that could possibly be cured by CRISPR technology are blindness and sickle cell anemia. The Chinese want to proceed full steam ahead into the use of this technology.

They ought to take precautions since it is still a nascent form of biotechnology and may have deleterious results if care is not taken.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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