A new age of human genetic engineering begins with CRISPR as Chinese scientists are going to conduct the first human trials. Oncologists are planning to inject modified cells to treat lung cancer patients at a Chinese hospital at Chengdu from August 2016. The US wants to follow suit towards the end of the year.

Genetic engineering has always been a careful step scientists have been reluctant to apply to clinical research. However, recent advancements in gene editing tools like CRISPR have opened new doors to step over the safe threshold. The first human trials will begin next month at Sichuan University’s West China Hospital in Chengdu, where oncologist Lu You will lead the researchers to treat patients of lung cancer using the new gene editing technique.

The Chinese scientists will inject CRISPR-aided genetically engineered cell into the lung cancer patients who have failed to show any response to traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The trails were approved by West China Hospital review board on July 6.

Genetic Engineering

Modifying human genes is a risky science and our DNA in its entirety is still an unexplored territory. Since every modification carryout out on the genes is inherited, scientists are concerned that the long-term effects of a bad editing could take generations to manifest and thus might not be safe.

That is why scientists need a very precise genetic engineering tools that can carry out genetic modifications with pinpoint accuracy so the outcome of such studies can be scaled down to a single gene.

Aberrations and miscalculations could lead to anonymous gene edits in addition to the target gene, which can prove disastrous.

CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing.

CRISPR so faris the most accurate gene editing tool that genetic engineers can use with confidence to even take the most complex gene addition, deletion, and gene replacement operations.

It is by the virtue of this new biotechnology tool that researchershave been able to undertake genetic modifications with great control. In the past, other gene-editing methods have been used to help patients fight HIV. However, the genetic therapy is more centered on cancer treatment which will be a Holy Grail for medical science.

The US National Institute of Health (NIH) has already endorsed a similar project which is awaiting the green light from FDA, after which the US researchers will start clinical experiments towards the end of 2016.

Last Hope.

Genetic engineering is being considered as the last hope for cancer patients who have failed to incur fruitful results after repeated chemotherapy. The Chinese scientists are hopeful that CRISPR-mediated clinical trials will bring positive results.

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