Gene-Editing Tested On Humans For First Time In History

A Chinese cancer patient became the first human ever to be injected with genes modified by the CRISPR-Cas9 technique.
一位中國癌症病人成為首位 CRISPR-Cas9 基因編輯技術的人類受試者

Credit – Hexapolis

Though the human genome is already being altered by the consumption of genetically-modified foods, the use of “DNA-Vaccines,” Geo-Engineering, and even Wi-Fi, some Chinese researchers have decided to take the next big jump by editing human genes via injection. In late October, a team of scientists at Sichuan University injected genetically-modified immune system cells into a lung cancer patient during a clinical trial in Chengdu. The trial will ultimately treat a total of 10 people who will receive between 2-4 injections by its conclusion. According to lead researcher Lu You, an oncologist, the primary purpose of the trial was to test the overall safety of the procedure. Treated patients will be monitored for six months in order to check for the advent of serious adverse effects following the initial treatment. However, any adverse consequences of the procedure could, in theory, appear much later. For example, adverse health effects resulting from the consumption of genetically-modified foods begin to appear just after six months in rats.

人類的基因組( 又稱基因體, genome )已經因為基因改造食品、DNA 疫苗( DNA-Vaccines )、地理工程學 ( Geoengineering )、甚至 Wi-Fi 而有了改變,但中國科學家不願意停留在這裡,他們決定進行下一步大跳躍,也就是經由注射來編輯人類的基因。在十月後半,四川大學的科學家團隊在一個成都的臨床試驗中,將經過基因編輯的免疫系統細胞注射到肺癌病人的身體裡。這個臨床試驗的受試者總共有十個人,他們將接受二到四次的注射。這個團隊的首席研究人員腫瘤學家盧鈾( Lu You )表示,這個臨床試驗的主要目的是測試整個程序的安全性。受試病人將接受六個月的持續監控,以暸解這個臨床試驗是否會帶來不利的影響、副作用。然而,這種程序可能帶來的不利的影響、副作用理論上可能會在更晚時出現。例如,老鼠在吃掉基因改造食品六個月後,才開始出現健康上的影響。

In the experiment, the immune system cells were modified using the controversial CRISPR/Cas9 technique. CRISPR, derived from a defense mechanism present in some bacteria, allows for scientists to edit genes with greater precision and efficiency than ever before. Since it was first developed, the technique has been touted as a potential cure for any and all genetic diseases as well as diseases with genetic components, such as cancer. In the last three years, major advances have been made with CRISPR, but not without controversy. During that time, fears have been raised on numerous occasions that the technique could be used to create so-called “designer babies” and could do irreparable damage to the human genome and natural evolutionary processes. Such concerns were aggravated when a British researcher was granted approval last February to edit the genes of human embryos, though edited embryos are destroyed after 14 days. Nonetheless, the precedent has been set.

在這個實驗中,免疫系統細胞藉由具爭議性的 CRISPR/Cas9 基因編輯技術( CRISPR 全名為常間回文重複序列叢集/常間回文重複序列叢集關聯蛋白系統,clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated proteins )進行編輯。CRISPR 是從一些菌類的防禦機制衍生出來的技術,讓科學家可以比之前更精確、更有效率地編輯基因。由於這是個新的技術,這個技術被稱為是能治療所有遺傳性疾病、具遺傳因素疾病的潛力解藥,像是癌症。在過去的三年中, CRISPR 有非常大的進展,但是也極具爭議性。在過去的一段時間中,對於「 設計嬰兒 」出現的恐懼升高,這可能對人類的基因組和自然進化程序造成不可回復的傷害。隨著一位英國研究人員得到對胚胎進行基因編輯的許可,這樣的擔憂更大大升高。這位英國研究人員在上個二月份得到這個許可,雖然這個被基因編輯的的胚胎在十四天後被銷毀,但是,這樣的先例已經被開了。

For now, most CRISPR gene editing studies in humans are focusing on the treatment of cancer and other diseases in adults, as was done in the Chinese clinical trial. The US is set to host its own similar trials in 2017 and the years beyond. The first US trial to be approved, which will be conducted by Editas Medicine, would seek to treat a rare form of blindness known as Leber Congenital Amaurosis, a condition affecting a few hundred US citizens. It is set to begin early this year. Another experiment, proposed by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, would seek to treat cancer patients via genetically-modified immune cell injection if it is approved by federal regulators. However, the Chinese’s early success in pioneering the technique’s use in adult humans could spark a “biomedical duel” between the two countries in the years to come.

目前 CRIPR 基因編輯技術應用在人類方面的研究集中在癌症的治療和其他的成人疾病上,就像之前那個中國的臨床試驗。美國將在 2017 年進行相似的試驗,之後也將繼續進行。美國首例試驗已經獲得授權,將由 Editas Medicine 進行,將針對罕見的盲眼眼疾萊伯氏先天性黑蒙症( Leber Congenital Amaurosis )進行治療。這個疾病影響了幾百個美國公民。這個實驗已經準備好在今年初的時候開始進行 。另一個由賓州大學的科學家團隊提案的實驗將嘗試治療癌症病人,如果聯邦監管機構如果許可的話,他們將用基因編輯後的免疫細胞注射來治療病人。然而,中國在早些時候藉由這個科技在成人身上得到的成功創舉,將點燃兩國之間進行「 生物醫學決鬥 」的火焰,在之後的日子裡不停交手。

In addition, some scientists doubt that such trials will even be remotely successful in treating patients’ cancer and worry that the procedure could do more harm than good. For example, Naiyer Rizvi of Columbia University Medical Center said that the process of extracting, genetically modifying, and propagating cells is “a huge undertaking and not very scalable. […] Unless it shows a large gain in efficacy, it will be hard to justify moving forward.” Not only that, but given the deleterious effects of GMOs on human health and the human genome, there is numerous danger inherent in transforming humans themselves into genetically-modified organisms, especially considering how much remains unknown about the human genome or the long-term consequences of significantly altering it.

另外,有些科學家認為這些在癌症病人身上的試驗不僅離成功很遙遠,甚至認為這個程序可能會造成更大的傷害。例如,哥倫比亞大學醫學中心的 Naiyer Rizvi 說:「 這個提取、基因編輯、培養細胞的程序是很大承諾、理想,但是很難達成。除非這個程序展現了很大的功效成果,否則很難有理由繼續前進。」

不只那樣,光是基因改造食品、動物( GMOs )對人類的健康和基因組所造成的負面影響,就可以看出將人類自己轉化為基因編輯生物體具有多大的危險性,尤其是考慮到人類對人類基因組的無知、以及對這種大幅改造基因的技術所帶來的長期後果的無知,可能帶來的巨大危險。

來源: trueactivist