Biotechnology/StemCell/Genetic Modification Part 2

Chinese scientists’ contribution to first US human embryo editing experiment


  • MIT Technology Review first reported the breakthrough on July 26, which made headlines worldwide as editing human embryos is quite controversial. This is the first time gene editing on human embryos has been conducted in the United States. Amid all the fuss in the news, some media failed to spot that Chinese scientists contributed a lot to the study. Take a look at the authors list in the journal Nature, there are a number of Asian names, among which Ma Hong and Wu Jun, who “contributed equally to this work” along with Nuria Marti-Gutierrez and Sang-Wook Park, the co-first authors of the paper. This study was completed jointly by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Oregon Health and Science University in the US, China National GeneBank (CNGB) in Shenzhen and Korean Basic Science Institute. Chinese researcher Wu Jun, who is with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, said its a significant research achievement in terms of collaboration among scientists.

Plant scientists plan massive effort to sequence 10,000 genomes

Jul. 27, 2017

  • Hopes of sequencing the DNA of every living thing on Earth are taking a step forward with the announcement of plans to sequence at least 10,000 genomes representing every major clade of plants and eukaryotic microbes. Chinese sequencing giant BGI and the China National GeneBank (CNGB) held a workshop yesterday on the sidelines of the International Botanical Congress, being held this week in BGI’s hometown of Shenzhen, to discuss what they are calling the 10KP plan. About 250 plant scientists participated in the discussions and “are raring to go,” says Gane Ka-Shu Wong, a genomicist and bioinformaticist at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

China produces world’s 1st cloned dog using gene editing

July 7, 2017

  • Already home to the world’s first cloned dog using somatic cell transfer technique, China is now the world’s first country to clone a dog using gene editing, after Sinogene, a Beijing-based biotech company, announced the achievement on July 5, Science and Technology reported. China is the second country to master somatic cell cloning technology, followed by South Korea, according to Lai Liangxue, a researcher at the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A first: All respond to gene therapy in a blood cancer study

June 5, 2017

  • Doctors are reporting unprecedented success from a new cell and gene therapy for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that’s on the rise. Although it’s early and the study is small—35 people—every patient responded and all but two were in some level of remission within two months. In a second study of nearly two dozen patients, everyone above a certain dose responded. Experts at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, where the results were announced Monday, say it’s a first for multiple myeloma and rare for any cancer treatment to have such success.

Trials of embryonic stem cells to launch in China

31 May 2017

  • In the next few months, surgeons in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou will carefully drill through the skulls of people with Parkinson’s disease and inject 4 million immature neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells into their brains. Then they will patch the patients up, send them home and wait. This will mark the start of the first clinical trial in China using human embryonic stem (ES) cells, and the first one worldwide aimed at treating Parkinson’s disease using ES cells from fertilized embryos. In a second trial starting around the same time, a different team in Zhengzhou will use ES cells to target vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration.

Researchers develop technique to expand stem cells’ tissue regrowth potential

April 12, 2017

  • Scientists at the Salk Institute in San Diego and Peking University in China have expanded the ability of stem cells to regrow both embryonic and extra-embryonic tissues. The international research group has reported the development of a chemical that makes it possible for these cultured stem cells to regrow either type of tissue. Their findings were published last week in Cell.

Your Cancer Drugs May Soon Be Discovered in China

April 11, 2017

  • SUZHOU, China—A new cancer drug licensed by Eli Lilly & Co. was discovered by a six-year-old startup on the outskirts of Shanghai, and derived from the ovary cells of Chinese hamsters. Lilly now is planning to test it on Americans.

Chinese doctors replace ear lost in accident with new one grown on patient’s arm

31 March, 2017

  • A plastic surgeon in mainland China has replaced a man’s ear lost in a car accident with a new one grown on the patient’s arm, state media reported. The surgery was conducted successfully at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xian Jiaotong University in Xian, capital of Shaanxi province , on Thursday. The patient, surnamed Ji, lost his right ear in a car accident more than a year ago and is expected to be discharged from the hospital in about two weeks when his new ear can work normally, according to state-media Xinhua.

How Chinese scientists caught up in the genome race


  • When Yuan Yingjin turned 54 on March 10, he had two unusual presents: some yeast chromosomes and acclaim in China’s national news. That day, research into assembling four synthetic yeast chromosomes, completed by his Tianjin University research team and scientists at Tsinghua University and BGI-Shenzhen, was published in the journal, Science. The achievement made China the second country after the United States capable of designing and building eukaryotic genomes.

CRISPR May Speed Pig-to-Human Transplants

March 16, 2017

  • The company is a spinout of the lab of Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church. He and cofounder Luhan Yang, who is also chief scientific officer, showed in 2015 that using gene editing, a novel and powerful way of modifying DNA inside living cells, they could eliminate viruses that lie latent in the pig’s genome. Now the group plans even more extensive modifications to pigs, including using gene editing to snip away pig molecules that the human body attacks. Yang says the company will also add to the pig’s genome genes that modulate the immune response and modify certain factors involved in coagulation.

Chinese researchers announce designer baby breakthrough

March 16, 2017

  • Chinese researchers used a genome editing technique called CRISPR to rid normal embryos of hereditary diseases that cause blood disorders and other ailments, according to New Scientist. Experts who reviewed the project told the publication that, even though it involved just six embryos, it carries promise. The acronym stands for “Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats,” and the technique is a method of disabling genes by introducing small mutations that disrupt the code of a DNA sequence. Prior to the Chinese experiment, studies involving the CRISPR technique have focused on its use in abnormal embryos that could never fully develop. For bioethics reasons, it was not previously used on healthy, or normal embryos.

Researchers assemble five new fully artificial yeast chromosomes

March 9, 2017

  • A global research team has built five new synthetic yeast chromosomes, meaning that 30 percent of a key organism’s genetic material has now been swapped out for engineered replacements. This is one of several findings of a package of seven papers published March 10 as the cover story for Science. Along the way, the global team honed a number of innovations and came to understand yeast biology better. A team at Tsinghua University, for instance, led an effort where six teams built in pieces synthetic chromosome XII (synXII), which was then assembled into a final molecule more than a million base pairs (a megabase) in length. This largest synthetic chromosome to date is still 1/3,000 of what would be needed to build a human genome molecule, so new techniques will be needed.

First results of CRISPR gene editing of normal embryos released

9 March 2017

  • A team in China has corrected genetic mutations in at least some of the cells in three normal human embryos using the CRISPR genome editing technique. The latest study is the first to describe the results of using CRISPR in viable human embryos, New Scientist can reveal. While this study – which attempted to repair the DNA of six embryos in total – was very small, the results suggest CRISPR works much better in normal embryos than it did in previous tests on abnormal embryos that could not develop into children.

Hong Kong university reveals complete genetic sets of nasopharyngeal cancer

07 March, 2017

  • Patients who have nasopharyngeal cancer, which starts behind the nose, could be given more effective treatment in the future after Chinese University researchers unveiled the complete genetic sets of a common cancer in Hong Kong. The university, which analysed 111 tumour specimens, also found mutation of four specific sets of genes activated a group of proteins, named NF-kappaB, that promoted the growth of cancer cells in 40 per cent of the samples.

CRISPR pioneer muses about long journey from China to pinnacle of American science

February 17 2017

  • Feng Zhang occupies a corner office on the 10th floor of the gleaming, modern biotechnology palace called the Broad Institute. He is one of the most acclaimed young scientists in the United States, regularly mentioned, even at 35, as a possible Nobel laureate. That’s because of CRISPR, the gene-editing technique that lets scientists manipulate the genetic code of organisms almost like revising a sentence with a word processor. Zhang was one of its pioneers, and on Wednesday he emerged victorious after a bitter patent dispute.

Discovery may help prevent tissue scarring and rejection of transplanted kidneys


  • Researchers have identified a new pathway that likely plays an important role in rejection following kidney transplantation. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), point to a promising strategy to help protect the health of recipients and the function of transplanted organs. When a team led by Hui Yao Lan MD, PhD (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Jiang Hua Chen, MD (Zhejiang University) examined biopsy specimens from patients experiencing kidney rejection, the researchers found that certain immune cells were transforming into connective tissue cells, which produce collagen and other fibers. The extent of this so-called macrophage-to-myofibroblast transition correlated with the severity of fibrosis and with the transplanted kidney’s function.

Harvard and M.I.T. Scientists Win Gene-Editing Patent Fight

FEB. 15, 2017

  • The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., will retain potentially lucrative rights to a powerful gene-editing technique that could lead to major advances in medicine and agriculture, the federal Patent and Trademark Office ruled on Wednesday. Several months later, Feng Zhang, a young scientist at the Broad Institute, was one of the first to accomplish the task. In a surprise to researchers in the field, the Broad Institute was granted a series of patents covering the use of the technique in cells that have nuclei, including human cells and plant cells.

China scientists develop diseases and insects resistant rice with genome-wide chip

Feb 04,2017

  • A new rice variety, developed with genome-wide breeding chip technology, will be grown in northeast China’s Helongjiang Province, China National Seed Group announced Saturday. “The use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have caused environmental and food safety problems,” said Zhang Qifa with Chinese Academy of Sciences. “But the genome-wide chip helps develop a new variety to cope with the problem.”

‘Tuberculosis-resistant’ cattle developed in China

1 February 2017

  • Scientists in China say they have produced cloned cattle with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis. Researchers in China used a genome editing tool to change the genetic code of cattle. They say the technology could have widespread uses in agriculture. The latest research, published in the journal, Genome Biology, used the new genome editing tool, which is more precise.

Stable Semi-Synthetic Bacterium Created

Jan 25, 2017

  • Researchers from the United States, China and France have created what they say is the world’s first stable semi-synthetic microorganism. The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hong Kong professor’s biofilm breakthrough could save shipping companies billions and protect marine life

24 January, 2017

  • In a Kowloon lab looking out to the ocean, a Hong Kong professor made a discovery that he believes could save navies and shipping companies around the world billions of dollars every year, as well as protect marine ecosystems. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor Qian Peiyuan was awarded the second-class honour of the State Council’s National Science Award last month for his breakthrough research into how climate change impacts the marine ecosystem and affects what life forms can grow.

China’s $9 billion effort to beat the U.S. in genetic testing

December 30, 2016

  • “I’m very frustrated at how aggressively China is investing in this space while the U.S. is not moving with the same kind of purpose,” said Eric Schadt, director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai. “China has established themselves as a really competitive force.” “The U.S. system has more dexterity and agility than the Chinese system,” said Simon, of Duke Kunshan University. “But the learning curve in China is very powerful, and the Chinese are moving fast. The question is not if. The question is when.”

New Testosterone Treatment Using Stem Cell Therapy Found Effective In Animal Test

30 December 2016

  • A new solution proposed by Chinese scientists, which involves converting skin cells to testosterone-producing cells, may change the way patients are being treated. Considering the present situation, the researchers at Jinan University sought to find an alternative for the testosterone-producing cells, also known as Leydig cells. Instead of using stem cells, they managed to transform regular skin cells into Leydig-like cells, which were able to produce testosterone in laboratory conditions.

Synthetic stem cells could offer therapeutic benefits, reduced risks

December 26, 2016

  • Researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University have developed a synthetic version of a cardiac stem cell. These synthetic stem cells offer therapeutic benefits comparable to those from natural stem cells and could reduce some of the risks associated with stem cell therapies. Additionally, these cells have better preservation stability and the technology is generalizable to other types of stem cells.

Chinese firm begins testing GMO corn seeds in U.S. greenhouse

Dec 15, 2016

  • A Chinese biotech seed firm has planted genetically modified corn seeds in the United States at a greenhouse designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the company said, an early step toward launching China’s first GMO corn products in the United States. Beijing-based Origin Agritech Ltd said on Wednesday that U.S. field tests of its seeds, with insect resistance and herbicide tolerance technologies developed in China, are scheduled to begin next summer.

China makes 3D-bioprinting breakthrough in aorta surgery


  • A Chinese professor from the West China Hospital at Sichuan University announced on Sunday that his team had successfully implanted 3D-bioprinted aortas into a group of monkeys in what is being described as a breakthrough in the field of biotechnology. The leading professor, Kang Yujian, said during a press conference in Chengdu on December 11 that he and his team had implanted 3D stem cell grafts into 30 rhesus monkeys, all of whom survived the surgery, China News Service reported.

Chinese drugmaker invests $36.5 mln in British biotech business Kymab

Nov 24, 2016

  • Nov 24 British privately owned biotech company Kymab has secured $100 million of funding from investors, including $36.5 million from China’s Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical, to help to fund its pipeline of experimental antibody drugs.

CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first time

15 November 2016

  • A Chinese group has become the first to inject a person with cells that contain genes edited using the revolutionary CRISPR–Cas9 technique. On 28 October, a team led by oncologist Lu You at Sichuan University in Chengdu delivered the modified cells into a patient with aggressive lung cancer as part of a clinical trial at the West China Hospital, also in Chengdu.

China is at the forefront of manipulating DNA to create a new class of superhumans

November 17, 2016

  • So are we on the brink of a brave new world of genetically enhanced humanity? Perhaps. And there’s an interesting wrinkle: It’s reasonable to believe that any seismic shift toward genetic enhancement will not be centered in Western countries like the US or the UK, where many modern technologies are pioneered. Instead, genetic enhancement is more likely to emerge out of China. The US may appear to be an exception to this trend. It lacks legal restriction of gene editing; however, federal funding of germline gene editing research is prohibited. Because most geneticists rely on government grants for their research, this acts as a significant restriction on germline editing studies. By contrast, it was Chinese government funding that led China to be the first to edit the genes of human embryos using the CRISPR-cas9 tool in 2015. China has also been leading the way in using CRISPR-cas9 for non-germline genetic modifications of human tissue cells for use in treatment of cancer patients.

Regeneration of spinal nerve cells boosted

October 12, 2016

  • Researchers successfully boosted the regeneration of mature nerve cells in the spinal cords of adult mammals — an achievement that could one day translate into improved therapies for patients with spinal cord injuries. “This research lays the groundwork for regenerative medicine for spinal cord injuries. We have uncovered critical molecular and cellular checkpoints in a pathway involved in the regeneration process that may be manipulated to boost nerve cell regeneration after a spinal injury,” said senior author Dr. Chun-Li Zhang, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern. Dr. Zhang cautioned that this research in mice, published today by Cell Reports, is still in the early experimental stage and is not ready for clinical translation. “Spinal cord injuries can be fatal or cause severe disability. Many survivors experience paralysis, reduced quality of life, and enormous financial and emotional burdens,” said lead author Dr. Lei-Lei Wang, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Zhang’s lab whose series of in vivo (in a living animal) screens led to the findings.

Genome engineering paves way for sickle cell cure

October 12, 2016

  • A team of physicians and laboratory scientists has taken a key step toward a cure for sickle cell disease, using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to fix the mutated gene responsible for the disease in stem cells from the blood of affected patients. In addition to Corn, Walters and Carroll, other co-authors are Mark DeWitt, Nicolas Bray, Tianjiao Wang and Therese Mitros of UC Berkeley; Wendy Magis, Seok-Jin Heo, Denise Muñoz, Dario Boffelli and David Martin of CHORI; Jennifer Berman of Bio-Rad Laboratories in Pleasanton, California; and Fabrizia Urbinati and Donald Kohn of UCLA. The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the Siebel Scholars Fund, the Jordan Family Fund and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Scientists take aging cardiac stem cells out of semiretirement to improve stem cell therapy

October 3, 2016

  • With age, the chromosomes of our cardiac stem cells compress as they move into a state of safe, semiretirement. The typically long, coiled strand of DNA inside each youthful stem cell gets shorter and dense as we age, literally leaving less room for it to be cut or otherwise damaged and die, said Dr. Yaoliang Tang, cardiovascular researcher in the Vascular Biology Center at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Tang is principal investigator on a new $1.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that is enabling him to restore the youthful length to the DNA just long enough to his get preconditioning therapy inside. Then, his research team will see what that does to the stem cell’s ability to revascularize heart muscle following a heart attack, improve heart function and possibly help avoid worsening disease.

Chinese scientists control major cotton disease with gene technology


  • Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in controlling a major disease of cotton plants using gene technology, Xinhua has learned. After eight years of research, scientists with the Institute of Microbiology of Chinese Academy of Sciences found that gene interference technology can prevent the spread of a pathogenic fungus, the cause of verticillium dahliae wilt.

World’s first baby born from new procedure using DNA of three people

27 September 2016

  • Doctors led by John Zhang, from the New Hope Fertility Center in New York, decided to attempt the controversial procedure of mitochondrial transfer in the hope that it would give the couple a healthy child.

China’s first gene bank to open in Shenzhen


  • China’s first national gene bank, China National Genebank, will open in the southern city of Shenzhen on Sept 22, with the goal of protecting, researching and utilizing genetic resources, Nanfang Daily reported. The gene bank hopes to boost the genetics industry and safeguard China’s genetic information. The new gene bank is outfitted with dozens of refrigerators to store samples, as well as 150 domestically developed desktop gene sequencing machines. The bank will work to restore global biological samples and data. A total of 10 million samples are currently stored in the bank, according to the report. The national gene pool consists of a biological information database and biological sample library. It can support a total of 60PB of gene data access. If a film is 500MB, then that amount is equal to 128 million pieces of film.

Chinese investigators characterize the world of resistance gene exchange among bacteria

September 9, 2016

  • Certain antibiotic resistance genes are easily transferred from one bacterial species to another, and can move between farm animals and the human gut. A team led by Chinese researchers has characterized this “mobile resistome,” which they say is largely to blame for the spread of antibiotic resistance. They found that many antibiotic resistance genes that are shared between the human and animal gut microbiome are also present in multiple human pathogens. These findings are published September 9 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. In China, the human and chicken gut microbiomes share 36 mobile resistance genes, said corresponding author Baoli Zhu, PhD, professor of pathogenomics, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Medical School. The human gut microbiomes in China, Europe, and the US share more mobile resistance genes with the chicken gut microbiome than with any other livestock gut microbiomes.

Breakthrough in the synthetic replication of composite-material structures found in Mother of pearl

Sep 07, 2016

  • Biomaterials play a crucial role in the development of future high-performance materials. A naturally occurring example of such biomaterial, the mollusk shell, guides chemical replication processes in laboratories. Due to its complex chemical construction, however, these processes are not easy to replicate synthetically. Chemists at the University of Konstanz, in cooperation with the University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei, China), are now the first to synthetically reproduce the structural configuration of natural mother of pearl or “nacre”. To develop the multiscale structures in nacre, the chemists rely on calcium carbonate, chitin and silk fibroin gel as original components. Their production process creates the same structural composition and the nearly identical characteristics of the naturally occurring biomineral.

City to launch stem cell study

August 30, 2016

  • SHANGHAI will launch a three-year trial study to determine the best way to collect stem cell samples from potential donors, officials from the local branch of the Red Cross Society of China said yesterday. The study, which will involve collecting 6,000 samples from medical staff, university students and ordinary residents, will examine the merits of collecting samples using the new cheek-swabbing method, which is considered easier and less invasive, versus the traditional intravenous blood method.

China seeks to assuage consumer fears over GMO foods

Aug 26, 2016

  • China’s agriculture ministry said it would back new laws on genetically modified (GMO) food labeling “at a suitable time” as it seeks to assuage public concerns over safety, but added that current laws protect consumers. Beijing has spent billions of dollars researching GMO crops and has said it is aiming for commercialization of the first GMO corn and soybean crops within the next five years.

BGI Establishes Asia-Pacific HQ In Queensland, Australia

August 23, 2016

  • Chinese genome sequencing company BGI has chosen QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, Australia as its research and development and commercialization headquarters for the Asia Pacific region. BGI is one of the largest genome sequencing companies in the world, with its global headquarters based in Shenzhen, China. The company has 47 laboratories worldwide.

In CRISPR Fight, Co-Inventor Says Broad Institute Misled Patent Office

August 17, 2016

  • A junior scientist formerly employed by the Broad Institute says the storied MIT-Harvard institution’s claim to have invented CRISPR gene editing isn’t accurate, and that the organization misled the patent office. The former graduate student, Shuailiang Lin, made his accusations in an e-mail sent to Jennifer Doudna, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who is Broad’s chief rival for scientific and commercial credit to CRISPR.

China backs GMO soybeans in push for high-tech agriculture

10 August 2016

  • China will push for the commercialisation of genetically modified soybeans over the next five years as it seeks to raise the efficiency of its agriculture sector, potentially boosting output of the crop by the world’s top soy importer and consumer. China, which has spent billions of dollars researching GMO crops, has already embraced the technology for cotton but has not yet permitted the cultivation of any biotech food crops amid fears from some consumers over perceived health risks.

China, Cuba Promote Exchange in Biotechnology

August 1, 2016

  • China promotes today the development of biotechnology starting from construction with Cuba of an Industrial Cooperation Area of Biological Technology. Municipal government authorities of Changchun, Jilin province and representatives of the Cuban BioCubaFarma company reaffirmed their interest in materializing actions for this strategic alliance. In Jilin already works since 2003, with Cuban cooperation, the joint venture Changchun Heber Biological Technology, whose main objective is the manufacture of biotechnological products.

Returnees to China boost nation’s biomedical industry

July 27, 2016

  • Estimates are that 30 percent of the professionals in China’s biomedical research industry are returnees from overseas. And they are called “Hai Gui,” or sea turtles. Li Chen is one of them. Chen earned a Ph.D. in U.S. more than twenty years ago, worked for a large medical research company there and then helped the company set up a branch in China. The government’s 13th five-year-plan calls for breakthroughs in 10 to 20 core biomedical technologies, and China’s “Hai Gui” are at the center of that effort.

Chinese scientists to pioneer first human CRISPR trial

21 July 2016

  • Chinese scientists are on the verge of being first in the world to inject people with cells modified using the CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing technique. A team led by Lu You, an oncologist at Sichuan University’s West China Hospital in Chengdu, plans to start testing such cells in people with lung cancer next month. The clinical trial received ethical approval from the hospital’s review board on 6 July. “It’s an exciting step forward,” says Carl June, a clinical researcher in immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Pfizer plans $350M China biotech plant

June 28, 2016

  • U.S. drug-making giant Pfizer (PFE) plans to invest roughly $350 million to develop a biotechnology center in China, increasing the company’s footprint in the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market, the firm announced Monday.

‘Sea Turtles’ Give China’s Drug Startups a Shot in the Arm

June 26, 2016

  • Chinese biopharma talent is leaving the Valley for Shanghai. China is the second-biggest pharmaceutical market in the world after the U.S., according to IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, which expects the country’s annual spending on drugs to reach $190 billion by 2020, up from an estimated $115 billion last year. To ensure that not all that money flows into the coffers of foreign companies, the Communist Party has enacted measures to foster national champions in life sciences. Pharma and biotech startups are eligible for tax incentives and rent subsidies, and their products qualify for expedited regulatory approval. “We’re at a tipping point in China,” says Ge Li, founder and chief executive officer of Shanghai-based WuXi Apptec. “I personally believe that we have another 10 to 20 years of good growth ahead.”

Chinese scientist find new genome editing tool


  • The Human Genome Project may have been launched in 1990, but the international scientific community is still tirelessly working to identify and map the entire DNA sequence. And this new editing method discovered by a Chinese scientist might just accelerate the process. Han Chunyu has just become famous overnight. It all began in early May when he published an article in Nature Biotechnology, one of the world’s top scientific journals, explaining a new gene editing tool called “NgAgo”. Compared with CRISPR, the NgAgo might be a more orderly and perhaps simpler way to go about genome editing. But that remains to be seen until there are more papers and data to back that claim. However, what surprises me is the condition of Han’s lab.

Bioethics in China: No wild east

22 June 2016

  • In our view, fears that China’s scientific ambitions are overwhelming its ability to exercise appropriate caution in the life sciences — particularly in research involving human embryos — are overblown. In fact, China has shown care and restraint with respect to altering the genomes of human eggs, sperm or embryos, and in the use of human embryos in research more broadly. National guidelines on embryonic-stem-cell research4 have precluded the implantation of modified human embryos for reproductive purposes since 2003. In China, going against government guidelines can incur financial penalties and loss of employment as well as loss of funding and licences to do research. Thus, although not encoded in law, the ruling that research on human embryos is permitted, but that the transfer of modified embryos to a woman’s uterus is not, has been described as a “Rubicon” for China’s research and medical communities5. It has not been breached since the 2003 guidelines were written.

China’s bid to be a DNA superpower

22 June 2016

  • BGI’s most famous scientist and visionary leader, Jun Wang, left last July. The machine that had given the company its dominance is outdated, and the firm’s attempt to develop its own industrial-scale whole-genome sequencer hit a roadblock last November, forcing it to lay off employees at its US subsidiary. Meanwhile, the competing system — Illumina’s X series — has been selling briskly, raising the speed and dropping the price of sequencing worldwide. Fuelling the drive is a multibillion-dollar, 15-year precision-medicine initiative, which China announced in March and which rivals a similar initiative in the United States. If these efforts fulfil their goals, doctors envision being able to use a person’s genome and physiology to pick the best treatments for his or her disease. The goal now for sequencing companies is to turn the bounty of genomic data into medical benefits.

National Gene Bank Begins Trial Operation


  • A national gene bank built by China’s gene research giant BGI started trial operation on Saturday in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Wang Jian, chairman of the Shenzhen-headquartered company, said the gene bank has a collection of 10 million samples of biological resources. The project is expected to boost research and business in fields of health, agriculture, species diversity and environmental protection.

China biotech industry gets talent injection

17 June 2016

  • “For us, you can call it the dream or responsibility to bring the advanced biopharma technologies back to China and then make an impact on the healthcare industry in China and eventually help the country’s patients,” – Dr Yang Dajun Yang went to the US in 1986 to study oncology – broadly, the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In 2009 Yang co-founded Ascentage, a clinical-stage biopharma firm that looks for and develops targeted small-molecule cancer therapeutics, in Shanghai with $3 million out of his own pocket and from his friends Dr Wang Shaomeng and Dr Guo Ming. The trio are among a number of Chinese-born, Western-educated biotech scientists who left China for further studies overseas in the late 1970s and 1980s and later worked their way up to senior roles at some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical firms and academic institutions. Early indications are that these efforts are starting to pay off. The output of the country’s bio-related industry rose more than 20% to Rmb3.16 trillion ($480 billion) in 2014, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The bioindustry was also expected to have reached Rmb4 trillion by the end of 2015 under the previous 12th five-year plan, with 90% of the output value – Rmb3.6 trillion coming from the biopharmaceutical sector.,china-biotech-industry-gets-talent-injection.aspx

Chinese Scientists Change Sheep Color by Editing Genes

Jun 08, 2016

  • Researchers at the Xinjiang Academy of Zootechnical Science in Urumqi have bred five sheep with different colors using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology, the state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday. Two of the sheep grow wool with black and white coloration similar to cows, another two have black and white spots like spotty dogs, while the other is brown and white, the report said.

Researchers Develop Haploid Embryonic Stem Cells

May 23, 2016

  • Researchers in China have successfully developed human haploid embryonic stem cells (ESCs). This new type of ESC holds a single copy of the human genome instead of the normal two; yet, they are capable of cell division. Their work was published in Cell Research.