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Beginning to Pay Off

China's investment in biotech is beginning to pay off, Reuters reports.

China's funding for biotech quadrupled to $191 billion in 2005 to 2013 while its Thousand Talents Program also lured Chinese researchers working abroad to return, and this, Reuters says, enabled "China to jump quickly on promising new technologies, often first developed elsewhere."

The CRISPR-Cas9 technology has been a particular focus — researchers from Sun-Yat Sen University published, to much controversy, their work using the tool to edit non-viable human embryos, and Reuters adds that other Chinese labs are also exploring use of the tool. About a fifth of gene-editing patent applications are from Chinese entities, it says.

Gene sequencing, such as at BGI, it adds, has been another focus.

"The Chinese could, over time, play a very significant role in this game as they have a very entrepreneurial attitude — much more so than in parts of Europe," Rodger Novak, CEO of CRISPR Therapeutics, tells Reuters.