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本文摘要:So it begins. Nobody thought it would happen this fast, and now we are preparing to take a leap into the unknown. Not Brexit but Crispr gene-editing, a DNA-changing technology that can supposedly cure mice of liver disease and muscular dys


So it begins. Nobody thought it would happen this fast, and now we are preparing to take a leap into the unknown. Not Brexit but Crispr gene-editing, a DNA-changing technology that can supposedly cure mice of liver disease and muscular dystrophy, render human cells resistant to HIV and create fungus-resistant wheat.就这么开始了。没有人想起这件事远比这么慢,现在我们于是以打算跃入不得而知之中。这里说道的不是英国弃欧,而是“出簇规律间隔较短回文反复序列”(Crispr)基因编辑,一种据信需要医治小鼠的肝病和肌营养不良,让人类细胞对艾滋病毒(HIV)产生抗性,培育出抗真菌小麦的DNA改建技术。It has also been touted as a means of remaking humanity — and now it is about to progress from Petri dishes into people. An influential advisory panel at the US National Institutes of Health has unanimously approved the first clinical trial to use Crispr genome-editing (also known as gene-editing) on humans, to reboot immune cells in cancer patients. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania will target patients with multiple myeloma, melanoma or sarcoma. The team will remove a class of immune cells called T-cells from patients, edit the genes of those T-cells so they are better able to “lock on” to tumour cells, and then restore the altered T-cells back into the bloodstream.该技术也被讥讽为一种再生人类的手段,现在这种技术将要从培养皿南北人类。

美国国家卫生研究院(NIH)一个有影响力的顾问组已完全一致批准后第一项对人类用于Crispr基因组编辑(也称之为基因编辑)技术,以“重新启动”癌症病人免疫细胞的临床试验。宾夕法尼亚大学(University of Pennsylvania)的研究人员将以多发性骨髓瘤、黑色素瘤或肉瘤患者为对象。

该团队将从患者体内放入被称作T细胞的一类免疫细胞,对这些T细胞的基因展开编辑,使它们能更佳地“瞄准”癌细胞,然后将这些改动过的T细胞新的引入患者的血液循环系统。With luck, the genetic edits should boost the patient’s immune system. The study, now expected to receive the blessing of federal regulators, will be funded by a cancer institute founded by Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook fame.幸运地的话,基因编辑应当能增进患者的免疫系统。预计将取得联邦监管机构的批准后的这项研究,将由曾多次创办Napster、并兼任Facebook首任总裁的肖恩帕克(Sean Parker)创立的一个癌症研究所资助。

The aim of this first in-human trial of Crispr is not to enhance therapeutic outcomes but to prove its safety. Other genetic technologies of great pro-mise cast long shadows. Gene therapy, which involves inserting copies of missing or defective genes into a patient, usually using a virus as a carrier, was nearly derailed at the turn of the millennium , when a child with a severe immune disorder developed leukaemia as a direct result of the treatment.这个对人体展开的第一项Crispr实验的目的,不是为了提高化疗结果,而是为了证明其安全性。其他曾多次大有希望的基因技术引爆了长长的阴影。

向患者体内流经缺陷或者缺失基因的副本(一般来说用于病毒作为载体)的基因疗法,在世纪之交的时候完全遭毁灭性压制,当时这种疗法必要造成一名患上相当严重的免疫系统失调症的儿童患有白血病。The viruses chosen as carriers in some early trials wrought unforeseen damage. As a result the first European treatment using gene therapy, which has been around since 1990, was licensed only in 2012.在一些早期的试验中,被选为载体的病毒造成了无法意识到的损害。其结果是,基因疗法虽然从1990年起就不存在了,但欧洲第一例用于这种疗法的化疗在2012年才取得许可。

With gene-editing, the unintended consequence that most terrifies genetic researchers is “off-target effects”, in which untargeted genes are inadvertently snipped, deleted or altered. The technology uses enzymes to search for particular sequences of DNA — but, just as it is possible for a search facility in word-processing software to pick out a string of letters in an unexpected place, the enzymes might similarly latch on to the wrong stretch of DNA.就基因编辑而言,最让基因研究人员深感惊慌的车祸后果是“脱靶效应”,也就所谓靶向基因被差点绑、去除或者改动。基因编辑技术利用酶来搜索特定的DNA序列,但就像文字处理软件的搜寻功能有可能在意想不到的地方挑一串字符那样,酶也有可能以类似于的方式吸附于错误的DNA片段。The risk, at least in this trial, is minimised by the gene-editing being done outside the body, allowing researchers to check the T-cells have been appropriately amended before being put back into the patient. Still, once the cutting enzyme is unleashed, there is a possibility it could continue operating inside the body to uncertain end.最少在这次实验中,这种风险被最小化——通过从人体外展开基因编辑,研究者能在检查T细胞已被必要地改动之后,再行将其引入患者体内。话虽如此,一旦剪切酶被释放出,其仍然有可能在人体内充分发挥不确认的起到。

By next year we should have a hint of whether gene-editing really can fix deficient DNA in people. And that is when things get serious: why stop at correcting the human genome? Why not beautify it? That thought is preoccupying those in the field, who raised concerns at a Washington summit in December, organised by scientists from the UK, China and the US. Among those attending was Yale University’s Daniel Kevles, a historian of the eugenics movement.到了明年,我们应当就能对基因编辑否知道能修缮人的缺失DNA有所理解。这就是事情开始逆相当严重的地方:为何要负于于修正人类基因组呢?不来对其展开美化?这种点子让该领域的人士忧心忡忡,在去年12月由英国、中国和美国科学家的组织、在华盛顿举办的一次峰会上,他们明确提出了这种忧虑。

与会者还包括来自耶鲁大学(Yale University)的优生运动历史学家丹尼尔凯夫利斯(Daniel Kevles)。The thing about Crispr genome-editing is this: it is fast, cheap and easy to do. Many countries, especially those that see themselves as future torchbearers for technology, such as China, are forging ahead; China holds the first claim to creating a (non-viable) gene-edited embryo. Regulation is patchy.Crispr基因组编辑有这样一个特点:这种技术较慢、廉价和易行。许多国家,特别是在是那些视自身为这些技术未来旗手的国家,比如中国,正在大力前进;中国是第一个声称对(无法存活的)人类胚胎展开过基因编辑的的国家。涉及法规还不完善。

No country endorses a genome-edited human embryo being implanted and being brought to term. Even so, gene-editing technology makes the prospect of a homo perfectus just slightly more probable — and, as a species, we have yet to fully grasp the implications of this brave and perfectly edited new world.目前没哪个国家批准后将经过基因组编辑的人类胚胎植入母体以后足月怀孕。即使如此,基因编辑技术稍微提升了构建“极致的人”(homo perfectus)的可能性——作为一个物种,我们还没几乎想好这个经过极致编辑的大胆新世界不会有什么影响。



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