Why China’s willingness to push ethical boundaries with CRISPR research ‘could end up benefiting us all’

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Two beagles (Hercules, left, and Tangou, right) were genetically-modified in a lab in China to be more muscular. Image: Zou Qingjian/Lai Liangxue/Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Today, [China] serves as the global center for CRISPR animal experiments, with its scientists being the first to use the tool to edit the genes of rats, rabbits, dogs, monkeys, and other species — often to give them painful diseases, ranging from muscular dystrophy to cancer.

Such experiments are highly controversial in the United States, where public opinion polls show that more than half of people oppose the use of animals for scientific research altogether. However, they’re embraced by both the Chinese public and its government — and ultimately, that could end up benefiting us all.

China’s CRISPR animal experiments have the potential to lead to cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or any number of human diseases. They could help scientists figure out how to grow replacement organs for humans, putting an end to long transplant waiting lists.

Chinese scientists are already engineering animals that are resistant to disease, which could increase the global food supply and perhaps end world hunger altogether.

Unfortunately, those advances will come at the cost of animals’ lives — and right now, that’s a price China appears willing to pay, even if other nations aren’t.

Read full, original post: China Isn’t Afraid to Be the “Bad Guy” of CRISPR Research

Related article:  We need a ‘global registry’ of all human gene-editing research, World Health Organization panel says
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