1. China’s reported gene-editing success could spark off a race with the US

China’s reported gene-editing success could spark off a race with the US

Though research on gene-editing has been going on for long now, there has been much back-and-forth on it, given that there are no clear studies highlighting its success in any of the countries.

By: | Published: November 21, 2016 6:15 AM
china flag reu l according to a recent article in Nature magazine, scientists may have made a real breakthrough in the area of gene-editing. (Source: Reuters)

Though research on gene-editing has been going on for long now, there has been much back-and-forth on it, given that there are no clear studies highlighting its success in any of the countries. But, according to a recent article in Nature magazine, scientists may have made a real breakthrough in the area of gene-editing. Using a technique called CRISPR-Cas9—which combines a DNA-cutting enzyme with a molecular guide that can be programmed to tell the enzyme precisely where to cut—scientists in Sichuan University, China, have been able to inject the gene in a patient with lung cancer.

While this is just the first of clinical trials, with universities in US and China to follow soon on more of them, the field is expected to see a sudden spurt of activity. But what this would also do is trigger a gene-race between both nations to get their products in the market first. While this is certainly beneficial for consumers, as remedies against cancer may soon be available in the market, it also leaves the door open for potential lapses. Also, gene therapy opens a debate on ethics, with the concept of designer babies and the likes never far off. With biotechnology entering a new era, it would be better if countries address some of these issues on a global level before the experiments start.

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