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Scientists experiencing difficulty tracking patients who have been treated in China



While gene therapy is still in its early stages, scientists need to monitor patients who have received treatment for editing genes. However, scientists in China did not track patients who had experimental gene therapy that could cause future health problems. ( Arek Socha | Pixabay )

China actually outpaced the United States in using the innovative CRISPR method, a gene editing tool, to edit the DNA of some people in a number of clinical trials.

However, a problem arises. It is difficult for scientists to track patients who have undergone experimental gene therapy in a specified country.

Gene Therapy in China

While gene therapy is still in its infancy, scientists need to monitor patients who have received treatment for editing genes. According to the Wall Street Journal, some cancer patients in China have undergone gene modification using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool in the hope of curing a deadly disease.

The problem is that some of the Chinese researchers who conducted the study neglected the ability to track patients after gene therapy and conduct follow-up examinations.

Knock-off effects

DNA modification using the CRISPR technique can lead to so-called knockout effects. People who have undergone gene editing procedures may have been able to anticipate health problems, such as autoimmune disorder, which will manifest itself over the years.

“Because we do not fully understand the human genome and are still developing [CRISPR-Cas9 and related technologies]we need to track perceived and unintended consequences throughout the lives of patients, ”explained Jennifer Dudna, a biochemist at the University of California at Berkeley and co-author of CRISPR.

Biomedical research in China is currently facing the unintended consequences of altering the human genome. In November, news about the Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who claims that he was the first in the world to introduce the first edited children’s genes, shocked the scientific community.

Jiankui, who works at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said that he modified the DNA of human embryos in which twin girls were born to make them immune to HIV. After the shocking revelation of Jiankui, the Chinese government took steps to limit unacceptable scientific practice.

Using CRISPR to edit human DNA

In January of this year, the WSJ reported that about 86 Chinese had undergone gene editing, with some evidence showing at least 11 human CRISPR studies. The first clinical trial in China, according to an earlier report of the WSJ, was conducted back in 2015.

On the contrary, the first human CRISPR trial was conducted in the USA only this year at the University of Pennsylvania with the participation of 18 people. The main purpose of the test was to prove whether it is safe to use the CRISPR technique for editing human DNA.

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