Cancer Cure: Chinese Scientist Treats Patient Using CRISPR-Edited Gene To Stop Cancer; American Scientists Races To Catch Up? [VIDEO]
Chinese scientists recently injected edited gene cells using CRISPR-CAs9 technology to a patient with advanced lung cancer. American scientists have been planning to use the same technology to treat sickle cell anemia, but are delayed by strict medical policies on safety.
The Chinese have beaten their American counterpart in testing the safety and effectiveness of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology in live human subjects. Last Oct. 28, a group of Chinese doctors led by oncologist Lu You of Sichuan University in Chengdu administered edited cells into a patient with aggressive metastatic lung cancer as reported by Nature.
The doctors harvested immune cells from the blood of the patient and using CRISPR disabled the protein PD-1, which have been known to help cancer cells grow. These edited cells were multiplied and injected back to the patient, hoping that these will stop the lung cancer from further advancing. The Chinese trial is the first time that CRISPR was used as a cancer cure and in treating live human patients.
Meanwhile, the American scientists have made plans to start clinical trials using CRISPR to repair genes that cause sickle cell anemia. The target date is early 2017, while waiting for FDA approval as reported by Tech Crunch. The medical policies of the country are very stringent, requiring corroborated claims and evidence of the technology's safety.
The CRISPR-Cas9 technology is not always accurate and there have been documented cases that the wrong gene was spliced thereby causing cancer. The Chinese have discovered this weakness in the clinical trials they conducted on human embryos wherein two-thirds have genetic mutations and only a minute fraction contained the replacement genetic code.
Nonetheless, the medical community has seen the potential of the CRISPR technology in allowing more hospitals to have access to edited cells as a cancer cure. For this reason, the American scientists are rushing the trials to test the efficacy of the technology, doing lot of catching up with their Chinese counterparts.
The two countries seem to be in a biomedical battle, with June saying "this is going to trigger 'Sputnik 2.0'." Only time will tell who gets to yield positive results, either one will significantly contribute to the advancement of cancer cure.