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Two cloned macaques named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua at the non-human-primate research facility under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Photo: Xinhua / Jin Liwang via Getty Images

Two biotechnology stories from China captured the world’s attention this past week:

  • First, the WSJ reported that a group of doctors in Hangzhou have been using CRISPR gene-editing in experiments with cancer patients. Elsewhere, medical scientists are far more cautious about using the technology in humans.

The concern: Clinical trials are not always well regulated around the world. The gene editing activity in China not only flouts the safety-first standard in developed countries and exploits desperate patients, it misses an opportunity to learn from carefully designed clinical trials.

  • Second, more than two decades after Dolly the sheep was cloned, scientists in China reported they had cloned the first primate. It required new techniques and involved dozens of failures before two infant monkeys were finally born with perfect copies of the genes in their cells, creating enormous opportunities for comparative research.

What it means: These results reinforce the possibility of using human clones for research. Still, the risks involved in cloning for human reproduction are simply too great, as the many failed attempts at monkey cloning make clear.

The bottom line: These developments are a reminder that the U.S. is no longer the sole player. However, science is not a zero-sum game. Along with the need for appropriate regulation, the question now is whether the U.S. is in a position to collaborate and contribute new information. In that sense, the less flashy National Institutes of Health announcement of a $190 million commitment to support work on new tools for gene editing is ultimately the bigger news this week.

Jonathan D. Moreno is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor of Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
2 hours ago - Sports

College football gone mad

Former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly walks in front of his players. Photo: David Madison/Getty Images

In the span of two days, the head coaches of two of the biggest college football programs in America have jumped ship, wooed by even greater challenges — and the almighty dollar.

Driving the news: Lincoln Riley is ditching Oklahoma for USC in a deal reportedly worth $110 million. LSU poached Brian Kelly from Notre Dame with a reported 10-year, $100 million contract.

Biden administration makes first move on data privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is launching its first big effort on privacy policy by looking at how data privacy issues affect civil rights.

Why it matters: An administration perspective on privacy policy could be key in developing a long-awaited national privacy law by putting the White House stamp on how to regulate privacy.

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Data: Axios research, Airbnb, Australia Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found.

Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.