Skip to Content
Biotechnology

China is already gene-editing a lot of humans

January 22, 2018

A new report says at least 86 people have had their genes edited in China to help cure disease.

Backstory: We already knew that China had experimented with CRISPR gene editing in humans since 2016, becoming the first nation in the world to do so. But no human CRISPR trials have so far taken place in America.

What’s new: An investigation by the Wall Street Journal says that CRISPR gene editing has actually been used in Chinese hospitals to treat human diseases like cancer since 2015. The new report shows the extent of the trend.

How it’s possible: Unlike the US, China allows a hospital’s ethics committee to approve research on humans. CRISPR trials can be approved within an afternoon.

But: The push to use the technique isn’t necessarily a good idea. There are still safety concerns about such treatments, from immune reactions to unintended edits.

Deep Dive

Biotechnology

These scientists used CRISPR to put an alligator gene into catfish

The resulting fish appear to be more resistant to disease and could improve commercial production—should they ever be approved.

Next up for CRISPR: Gene editing for the masses?

Last year, Verve Therapeutics started the first human trial of a CRISPR treatment that could benefit most people—a signal that gene editing may be ready to go mainstream.

CRISPR for high cholesterol: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

New forms of the gene-editing tool could enable treatments for common diseases.

An ALS patient set a record for communicating via a brain implant: 62 words per minute

Brain interfaces could let paralyzed people speak at almost normal speeds.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.