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A half-decade after a scientist’s reckless experiment with human embryos put a stop to much of China’s clinical work on CRISPR gene editing, local researchers are once again performing human studies of the technology.

At least three Chinese biotech companies have recently begun tests of CRISPR treatments for blood, eye and liver diseases, with more on the way. Although most are pursuing the same set of well-trodden targets as their US counterparts, they are moving at rapid speed and with a fraction of the funding of their Western peers.

Shanghai-based YolTech Therapeutics, for example, began preliminary clinical tests of its gene editing therapy for a liver disease called hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis in December — a mere 16 months after raising $17 million in its first major financing. A formal Phase 1 trial was cleared by Chinese regulators in March.

“In China, you have to move fast and make decisions without having the full or comprehensive data,” YolTech chief technology officer Zi Jun Emma Wang told Endpoints News.

Following the embryo fiasco of late 2018, there were broad calls for increased...