Chi­nese bi­ol­o­gists to con­duct more re­search at an­other lab

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YU in Shi­ji­azhuang zhangyu1@chi­

A bi­o­log­i­cal re­search team from China said on Thurs­day it has with­drawn a con­tro­ver­sial pa­per on a new gene-edit­ing tech­nique and will carry out fur­ther re­search at a third-party lab­o­ra­tory.

The team, led by Han Chunyu of He­bei Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, pub­lished the pa­per in May last year in the in­ter­na­tional sci­ence jour­nal Na­ture Biotech­nol­ogy.

The pa­per claimed the tech­nique de­vised by the team may be more ef­fi­cient and ver­sa­tile than the CRISPR-Cas9 genome edit­ing tech­nique, which has been used on a wide range of or­gan­isms, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

Af­ter be­ing pub­lished, the pa­per drew a flurry of at­ten­tion from me­dia and academia, with many ques­tion­ing whether the ex­per­i­ment could be repli­cated.

Some re­searchers in China and other coun­tries have tried to re­pro­duce the orig­i­nal ex­per­i­ment based on its first de­scrip­tion, but no one re­ported a suc­cess.

In De­cem­ber, Han’s team and sev­eral ad­di­tional in­de­pen­dent groups pro­vided the jour­nal with new data claim­ing to have re­pro­duced the gene-edit­ing tech­nique, Na­ture Biotech­nol­ogy said in an ar­ti­cle pub­lished on Wed­nes­day.

At the time, the team and new groups were asked to gather ad­di­tional ex­per­i­men­tal ev­i­dence to bol­ster their claims.

So far, the in­de­pen­dent groups that re­ported ini­tial suc­cesses in re­pro­duc­ing the re­sults have not been

There are two prob­lems to be solved — whether their ex­per­i­ment is re­pro­ducible, and if not, why.” Shao Feng, re­searcher at Na­tional In­sti­tute of Bi­o­log­i­cal Sciences

able to add to their pre­lim­i­nary data to a pub­lish­able level, the jour­nal said.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment made by Han’s team on the univer­sity’s web­site, the de­ci­sion to with­draw the pa­per was made to re­spect ac­cu­racy in sci­en­tific re­search.

To­gether with other re­searchers, the team will con­tinue to do re­lated re­search at a third-party lab, aim­ing to ver­ify the ef­fec­tive­ness of the gene-edit­ing tech­nique and fig­ure out why their orig­i­nal ex­per­i­ment could not be re­peated with the same re­sults.

The univer­sity also said it will carry out an eval­u­a­tion of the pa­per.

An em­ployee with the pub­lic­ity depart­ment at the univer­sity said on Thurs­day that Han and his team might not want to give more in­for­ma­tion on the mat­ter right now.

“There are two prob­lems to be solved — whether their ex­per­i­ment is re­pro­ducible, and if not, why,” said Shao Feng, a re­searcher with the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Bi­o­log­i­cal Sciences, who was quoted by The-In­tel­lec­tual, an ac­count on WeChat.

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