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Getting a Move On

Clinicians in China are forging ahead with using CRISPR-based gene editing approaches to treat cancer patients, NPR reports.

There are at least nine studies going on in China looking at ways to use gene editing as a treatment, it adds. For instance, NPR describes one study that's taking place at the Hangzhou Cancer Hospital in which scientists are taking patients' T cells, modifying them using CRISPR to knock out their the PD-1 gene, and infusing them back into patients to attack their tumors. Hangzhou's Shixiu Wu tells NPR that about 40 percent of patients have responded to treatment and most of the side effects have been minor.

By contrast, NPR says only one CRISPR trial has been approved in the US, and it has just started to look for patients to enroll.

Hallam Stevens, an anthropologist at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University who studies China's bioscience field, tells NPR that medical research isn't regulated the same way in China as in the US. This has raised concerns that some studies may put patients at risk, it adds.

"There's some very high-quality research in China, and then there are others that are not high quality," the University of Pennsylvania's Carl June, who is leading the US study, tells NPR, which notes he has no specific concerns about Wu's study. June, though, says he worries that the US is falling behind.