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Another CRISPR Trial Begins

Researchers in China have embarked on a new trial using the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 to modify human genes to treat cancer patients, the Wall Street Journal reports.

For this trial, researchers at Nanjing University have injected the first set of modified genes into a patient with late-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma, the Journal adds. The trial, co-led by Jia Wei, the vice-director of Nanjing's Clinical Cancer Institute, will include 20 patients with aggressive gastric cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and lymphoma.

"The first patient has received cell infusion just now, and it's going well," Wei tells the Journal.

Last fall, researchers at Sichuan University began a safety trial in which they injected immune cells they'd obtained from a lung cancer patient back into that patient after the cells had been modified so that the gene encoding the PD-1 protein was disabled. PD-1 is involved in stopping the cellular immune response. Sichuan says it plans to release its results sometime this year, according to the Journal.

A US-based team is also pursuing a trial that's expected to begin this summer altering both PD-1 and TCR to boost immune response among cancer patients.