First genetically 'edited' gene injected into human
Scientists are now on the cusp of creating a more perfect human – one that could avoid major diseases and live well past the century mark.
Chinese scientists on Oct. 28 became the first in the world to inject an adult human with cells that contain genes that have been “edited” using the cutting-edge CRISPR/Cas9 technology.
The edited cells were injected by a team from the Sichuan University in Chengdu, as part of a clinical trial against aggressive lung cancer. Experts say the stage has now been set for a biomedical race between the U.S. and China.
“If you haven’t heard of CRISPR as yet, you soon will,” reports ScienceAlert.com. “The new gene-editing technique is poised to revolutionize the way we treat disease, by offering scientists a quick and easy way to cut and paste genes from our DNA.
“CRISPR/Cas9 basically works like a pair of molecular scissors. Researchers just need to program it, and it can cut out certain genes — or add new ones — far more cheaply and quickly than any previous genetic tools.”
The introduction of CRISPR, which is simpler and more efficient than other techniques, will probably accelerate the race to get gene-edited cells into the clinic across the world, Carl June, an immunotherapy specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the science journal Nature.
“I think this is going to trigger ‘Sputnik 2.0’, a biomedical duel on progress between China and the United States,” said June, the adviser for a planned U.S. clinical trial that will use CRISPR to target three genes in participants’ cells, with the goal of treating various cancers. He expects the trial to start in early 2017. And in March 2017, a group at Peking University in Beijing hopes to start three clinical trials using CRISPR against bladder, prostate and renal-cell cancers.
If paid for by insurance, the new technology could be a blessing for millions of cancer patients.
But some warn there could be a “dark side” to this scientific advance.