Crop Biotech Update

Chinese Scientists Test CRISPR Gene-editing in Human for the First Time

November 23, 2016

Scientists from Sichuan University in Chengdu, China conducted the very first human injection of gene-edited cells using CRISPR-Cas9 technique. The modified cells were injected into a patient with aggressive lung cancer at the West China Hospital in Chengdu.

According to the report published in Nature, immune cells from the patient's blood were harvested and then the specific genes were disabled using CRISPR-Cas9, which combines a DNA-cutting enzyme with a molecular guide that can be programmed to tell the enzyme precisely where to cut. The disabled gene codes for the protein PD-1, which normally puts the brakes on a cell's immune response: cancers take advantage of that function to proliferate. Then the researchers cultured the edited cells, multiplied them, and injected them back into the patient. They hope that without PD-1, the edited cells will attack and defeat the cancer. The research team plans to inject a total of 10 patients, who will be initially monitored for six months for any adverse effects. They will be continuously monitored for the succeeding months to see if they are benefiting from the treatment.

Read more in Nature.