Chinese scientists are the first to inject a person with cells that contain genes edited using the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 technique. On October 28, oncologist Lu You with his team at Sichuan University in Chengdu injected modified cells into a patient with aggressive lung cancer as part of a clinical trial at the West China Hospital. Details are currently not being released to preserve patient privacy, but Lu claimed the trial “went smoothly.”
Professionals say that CRISPR method is a more convenient and quicker form of genetic modification, which allows scientists to replace genetic code with speed and precision that is unfounded in other forms of genetic modification.
The CRISPR method could potentially be used in numerous fields of development ranging from agriculture to medicine. Although there are concerns over altering genomes, especially human ones, there seems to be huge potential for the future.
The Chinese trial earned approval from a board at the West China Hospital in Chengdu. A U.S. trial is scheduled for 2017 to target various types of cancer. “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, an immunotherapy researcher at UPenn, told Nature News.