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CRISPR: Chinese Scientists To Pioneer Gene-Editing Trial On Humans ( 93

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A team of Chinese scientists will be the first in the world to apply the revolutionary gene-editing technique known as CRISPR on human subjects. Led by Lu You, an oncologist at Sichuan University's West China hospital in Chengdu, China, the team plan to start testing cells modified with CRISPR on patients with lung cancer in August, according to the journal Nature. CRISPR is a game-changer in bioscience; a groundbreaking technique which can find, cut out and replace specific parts of DNA using a specially programmed enzyme named Cas9. Its ramifications are next to endless, from changing the color of mouse fur to designing malaria-free mosquitoes and pest-resistant crops to correcting a wide swath of genetic diseases like sickle-cell anaemia in humans. The Sichuan University trial, it is important to note, does not edit the germ-line; its effects will not be hereditary. What the researchers plan to do is enroll patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, Nature reported, and for whom other treatment options -- including chemotherapy and radiotherapy -- have failed. They will then extract immune cells from the patients' blood and use CRISPR to add a new genetic sequence which will help the patient's immune system target and destroy the cancer. The cells will then be re-introduced into the patients' bloodstream. The Guardian does note that CRISPR was approved for human trials in the U.S., but if it begins on schedule in August the Sichuan University study will beat them to the punch of being the first of its kind.
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CRISPR: Chinese Scientists To Pioneer Gene-Editing Trial On Humans

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  • Eugenics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The summary hints at the real plans, which are to experiment with human genes to vary appearance and other attributes, just like experimentation on animals. The obvious purpose is eugenics, in order to create designer humans and weed out the undesirables. This is morally and ethically wrong. And because it's a bit harder to get away with this in the United States, scientists have secret meetings like the one about making a custom human genome, and then move their work to China. This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    • Re:Eugenics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @03:39AM (#52565251)

      Uh, gene editing is totally different than eugenics which literally prevented people with traits that were considered "undesirable" from reproducing. Eugenics involves infringing on someone's right to reproduce. Gene editing however is no different than choosing an green eyed partner because you want your kids to have that trait. Is that wrong? With gene editing you can choose a brown eyed partner and get an green eyed kid. It's not evil. You can have a kid with a black woman and your kids can still look white. Anyway, it's not eugenics. A person has the right to change their own genes. How can you tell me I can't change my own DNA? If I can change my own DNA, then why can't I change the DNA of my offspring as long as the offspring is not deliberately injured or made to suffer by it. You wanna talk about risk, what about women over 40 who have kids? That risks the baby to all kinds of stuff. While I don't advocate using CRISPR this early for gene editting this early. Long term, I see nothing morally or ethically wrong with using it once the technology is proven to be lower risk than say a woman having a baby after age 38.

      You have no right to tell me that I can't change my DNA and, in addition, you can't tell me I can't fix any broken genes in my kids -- unless it is a trait deliberately to hurt them. I mean you have no right to tell me how to raise my kids either, unless it is child abuse. It should be the same way with gene editing.

      • *ahem* You do know this is military [], right?

      • If I can change my own DNA, then why can't I change the DNA of my offspring as long as the offspring is not deliberately injured or made to suffer by it.
        Actually your offspring can rechange, or change, or add anything s/he wants later, too.

      • You picked something innocuous such as eye color. What about Height? Strength? Athletic ability? Intelligence? Beauty? (however subjective it is). Gattaca covered this really well.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        What right of reproduction is it that you speak. I have never heard of this right, it sounds very suspiciously like some acient greek right of ownership of children, the right to do to them as you wish, to bake them and enjoy them with a dish of fava beans. The new child coming into to the world has rights and you have no rights to bring them into the world or to use them as you wish.

        Hey, you want those who are least able to contribute to society to reproduce through intoxication and laziness and in far g

    • Re:Eugenics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @03:54AM (#52565285)

      This is morally and ethically wrong.

      Why? Because you said so? Nazi style eugenics is morally wrong because it involved murdering people. This does not, so I don't see any moral or ethical problem. How is this any more morally wrong than, say, pregnant women taking folic acid supplements to reduce birth defects, thus "weeding out the undesirables"?

    • Re:Eugenics (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @03:59AM (#52565301) Homepage Journal

      This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

      [pointing to a line of clones] This is Wong, Wong, Wong, Wong...

    • Let me guess. All those people with cancer deserve to die because that is natures way? All those kids born with genetic diseases should be left to suffer because you think it is immoral to edit out those errors?

      Why don't you get off your fucking high horse. People like you really grind my gears. The holier than tho crowd. You think you have the right to decide what is moral and what is not. I say, fuck you. You and your bible beating brethren are the reason medical progress has more or less come to a halt i

    • This is morally and ethically wrong.
      That is bollocks.

      The obvious purpose is eugenics
      That is bollocks, too.

      As long as I can decide what genes I want to have in me, no one is "eugenicing me" and you are not the one who has the oral right or ethic superiority to decide about me!

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @03:15AM (#52565211)

    GMO humans will still be safe to eat.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      GMO humans will still be safe to eat.

      Now they can come in Soylent Blue and Soylent Red also.

    • The problem is . . . Monsanto will claim Intellectual Property rights to GMO humans. So they will be forced to pay tribute Monsanto for the rest of their lives.

      And, Monsanto being Monsanto . . . GMO humans will have to pay, even after their death.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Only if they are properly labeled.

    • by n4wff ( 898181 )
      And now come in 2 flavors - Original and extra CRISPR
  • question ultimately is whether we, as individuals, societies or groups, respect humans as they are in themselves, with what we perceive as imperfections, incurable deceases, 'deformities', age or stage of development(from embryos to old age 'sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything", gender, level of education, etc etc
    or do we disrespect them as they are, and instead try to decide for them and try(sometimes by giving power to authorities through legislation) to change and aim for an ideal of perf

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Potential humans have no rights.

      Worrying about embryos is one thing, assigning the right to exist to people who might be born in the far future if we make a different decision ... that's insanity.

      • by Empiric ( 675968 )
        Yes... theoretical future people are fully as much "potential humans" as bipedal hominids lacking a basis for such a categorical distinction.
    • You may continue to idolise the natural state of humans if you want.

      But when your descents are dying slowly from cancer, they might want to ask you why you didn't get the cancer-resistance fix installed.

      • your counter argument depends on speculative questions from speculative future about a speculative 'fix'?
        no need to say anything else.

  • The Sichuan University trial, it is important to note, does not edit the germ-line; its effects will not be hereditary.

    This test run may not be, but this technique can not only be applied to germ-line cells, but also made 'super-hereditary'. When you change germ-line cells, they are transmitted only in half the cases, no matter if dominant or recessive. But they found a technique to have the modifications transmitted every time ! I don't remember the name of that technique though.

  • I wonder what the limitations of a genetic sex-change would be. Also, wouldn't women get the shaft (so to speak) given they (usually) lack a Y chromosome?
    *cue Clone of My Own quotation*

    • Very little.

      There's one gene on Y that determines sex, SRY, and it's active during development. Changing it in an adult would have no effect at all. Changing it germline would give you anatomically perfectly normal male or female offspring, just with reduced fertility.

  • of our genome before the arrogant ones start modifying it.

  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @08:29AM (#52565741) Homepage Journal

    CRISPR is just a passive nucleotide constract. It's the CAS system that does the work.


  • Goals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:04AM (#52565923)

    Consequences or true motivations aside, if they can get a viable genetic treatment to work, it would be stupid not to cheer them on.

    Cancer is one of our biggest killers and, to date, our methods of dealing with it are nearly as harmful as the cancer itself.

    A year or two of treatments can easily bankrupt a person with zero guarantees the treatments will even be successful.

    Technology and advances in science can be downright scary depending on intended use but we would not be what we are today without the willingness to take that risk.

  • So when can I get my telemere chains fixed with this and buy myself a few more decades?

Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.