A ground-breaking gene-editing technique is to be tested on humans for the first time, with Chinese oncologists trialling the innovation on lung cancer patients.

The team from Sichuan University’s West China hospital in Chengdu, China will begin tests in August, the scientific journal Nature reported.

Known as Crispr, the technique entails finding, removing and replacing specific parts of DNA

Patients selected for the trial will be cancer lung cancer sufferers for whom chemotherapy and radiotherapy have proved ineffective.

The Crispr technique will add a new genetic sequence designed to help the patient’s immune system destroy the cancer.

Despite its potential benefits, which could see the creation of pest-resistant crops and tackling a number of diseases such as sickle-cell anaemia, gene editing remains controversial even though it is a different technique than genetic modification.

However supporters of the technique say that unlike genetic modification, it is not hereditary.

Earlier this year the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority in Britain approved an application from the Francis Crick Institute to use gene-editing on embryos.

But the approval was conditional on the research receiving ethical approval.

The initial pilot will involve research on up to 30 embryos and will see the DNA altered on leftover embryos from IVF clinics.
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