China / Innovation

Biotech journal to check DNA claims

By Shan Juan (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-03 07:42

The journal Nature Biotechnology said on Tuesday that it would investigate criticisms of what was thought to be a breakthrough gene-editing technique developed by Chinese scientist Han Chunyu.

The journal published Han's research findings online on May 2. But last week, the head of the transgenesis lab at Australian National University said the lab had been unable to replicate Han's results.

Han, 42, a geneticist at Hebei University of Science and Technology, rose to prominence with the publication of his cutting-edge gene editing technique - known as NgAgo - and he was perceived as a contender for a Nobel Prize.

The journal said it had been contacted by several researchers who said they had not been able to reproduce Han's published results. The journal said it takes any concerns raised about any paper seriously and considers them carefully, and it is now following an established process to investigate the issues.

Han could not be contacted for a response.

He was quoted on Sunday in Beijing-based Science and Technology Daily as saying he would repeat the experiment and share his original data if the journal requested it.

According to Nature policy, authors are required to make materials, data, code and associated protocols promptly available to readers without undue qualifications as a condition of publication in one of its journals.

Before NgAgo, effort and investment were directed heavily toward the widely recognized genome-editing technique known as CRSPR, which allows researchers to clip a specific DNA sequence and replace it with a new one, offering the potential to cure diseases caused by faulty genes.

CRSPR has been tried in animal studies and some human embryos.

The NgAgo technique for editing DNA was initially believed to surpass CRISPR in precision and efficiency, experts said.

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