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Jul 25, 2016 11:28 AM EDT

Chinese Scientists to Perform First Ever CRISPR Gene-Editing Trial on Humans

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What is gene editing?

A breakthrough in the field of medicine is about to happen as the gene-editing technique called Crispr will be applied by a team of Chinese scientists to patients with lung cancer in August.

According to the Guardian, "Crispr is a game-changer in bioscience; a ground-breaking technique which can find, cut out and replace specific parts of DNA using a specially programmed enzyme named Cas9."   

How will the clinical trial work? A report from Time says, "The Chinese trial will include patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and who have not seen success from chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments."

According to Lu You, an oncologist leading the team, "Treatment options are very limited. This technique is of great promise in bringing benefits to patients, especially the cancer patients whom we treat every day."

However, the process has identified possible dangers when CRISPR would result gene edits at the wrong place in the genome. As an outcome, it might trigger an excessive autoimmune response where the gut and adrenaline glands will be attacked by the cells. As a solution, Chan further suggested, "Chinese team take the T-cells from the site tumor, because they would already be specialized for targeting cancer."

The success of the engineered mutations in non-human primates the macaques in 2014 by researchers from Nanjing University led to the approval of the project for human trial. Although, the process was supported by US research group led by billionaire Sean Parker, if the Chinese team will begin its schedule in August, they will be the first to perform the "first ever CRISPR gene-editing trial on humans". This led to the statement of Lu You in an interview with scientific journal Nature, "I hope we are the first."

Indeed, if the said breakthrough will be successful, this is good news to all cancer patients who are not cured by chemotherapy.

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