CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing has been used for the first time on humans in China, with a team of scientists at West China Hospital in Chengdu beginning a trial to test the gene tool that has the potential to cure myriad diseases.
The team injected cells into a Chinese patient on Oct. 28 to see if the gene-editing tool would destroy the patient’s lung cancer, Nature noted.
CRISPR, which stands for “clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats,” are patterns of DNA sequences, and Cas9 is a type of protein that edits those sequences, U.S. News & World Report noted.
“Everything is going as planned,” Liao Zhilin, a spokesman for the team of scientists, told CNN.
When it comes to this type of work, the U.S seems to be trailing China, which has an “unwavering enthusiasm for biotechnology,” Gizmodo noted.
The U.S. has showed more unease about biotechnology. China became the first to use CRISPR “to genetically modify a human embryo,” which prompted American scientists and bioethicists to work to approve “baby-step guidelines,” Gizmodo noted.
The U.S. plans to begin a trial on the CRISPR-Cas9 in 2017.
“I think this is going to trigger ‘Sputnik 2.0,’ a biomedical duel on progress between China and the United States, which is important since competition usually improves the end product,” Carl June, a scientific adviser to the U.S. trial and immunotherapy specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, told Nature.
“One of the most important elements of CRISPR development in China is scale,” Christina Larson, a contributing correspondent for Science magazine, told CNN in April. “It’s being deployed in many different ways, in many different labs.”
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