In DepthGenome Editing

China sprints ahead in CRISPR therapy race

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Science  06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 20-21
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6359.20

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CRISPR, the wildly popular genome-editing research tool, was invented in the West, but it is speeding toward potential human applications in China. Last week, the Chinese team that sparked a worldwide debate in 2015 when it reported the first use of CRISPR to edit a human embryo's genome notched another first. In early embryos, they showed that a new CRISPR variant, which chemically modifies rather than cuts DNA, can correct the mutation causing a debilitating blood disease. But the most striking evidence of progress in China can be found on the database: Of the 10 listed trials of CRISPR in patients, nine are in China, where streamlined safety and ethical reviews have given researchers a head start. Three of the groups confirmed to Science that they are infusing cancer patients with their own immune cells modified using CRISPR.