Chinese Scientists Edited Human DNA to Treat HIV and Blood Cancer

Chinese Scientists Edited Human DNA to Treat HIV and Blood Cancer

DNA editing tools become more and more of an alternative to pills and surgeries. However, it raised a wave of ethical controversy and everyone was aware that such an innovation couldn’t come without a set of risks. Will it affect future generations? Can it pass unwanted genes to our children?Read on to find out the results. 

The researchers still improve their HIV approach, but the good news is that no unintentional genetic alterations resulted from the experiment. It might be considered a safe method for future cases.

Hongkui Deng, from Peking University, and his team stated that there is no reason for concern attached to CRISPR, the gene-editing tool.

What Was Different from other Experiments?

In an early trial, a Chinese scientist edited two embryos to increase their resistance to HIV. The case didn’t have a happy outcome, as the gene alterations may affect the offspring of the twin girls.
This time, the researchers made changes in adult DNA cells that will not be passed on.

Leukemia and HIV

The patient that offered to undergo the process had also blood cancer. The entire procedure consisted in deleting the gene called CCR5, and then implant the new cells in the spine of the leukemia patient.

One month later, leukemia was completely erased. The edited stem cells multiplied rapidly, and are going to persist in the organism for 19 months.

Unfortunately, the patient couldn’t benefit from HIV recovery along with leukemia. When the patient quited taking HIV medication for short periods, the levels of HIV increased dangerously, pushing him to start retaking the treatment.

Anyway, CRISPR tools are a game-changer in the medical world for leukemia, and the list with possible applications is being written nowadays.

One of the inventors of CRISPR, Jennifer Doudna, from the University of California, Berkeley, affirmed:

This plants the flag to say that at least in this one instance, this type of therapy appears safe.


Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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