亚博APP-挑战禁忌的中国克隆技术 The clone factory

激光雕刻机 | 2021-03-28
本文摘要:In Chinese mythology, the Monkey King is a beast with magical fur. All he has to do is pull out a hair, blow on it and it is instantly transformed into a clone of himself.在中国的神话故事里,孙悟空身上的猴毛具有极大的魔力。

In Chinese mythology, the Monkey King is a beast with magical fur. All he has to do is pull out a hair, blow on it and it is instantly transformed into a clone of himself.在中国的神话故事里,孙悟空身上的猴毛具有极大的魔力。他只需忽下一根,刮起口气,瞬间就能木偶一只跟他一模一样的猴子。Xu Xiaochun, chief executive of BoyaLife, says the fable is not far from reality, as far as his Chinese biotechnology company is concerned. This week he announced an investment of $31m in a joint venture with South Korea’s Sooam Biotech that aims to clone 1m cows a year from their hair cells.博雅(BoyaLife)首席执行官许晓椿回应,对于他接掌的这家中国生物技术公司,这种神话并非有望不能即。上周他宣告投资3100万美元与韩国秀岩生命工学研究院(Sooam Biotech)重新组建一家合资公司,计划通过克隆毛发细胞每年生产100万头牛。

The Monkey King “sounds like a fairy tale but we are really doing the same thing”, he says. “We pull out 200 hairs, blow on them — and boom!”他回应,孙悟空“听得上去看起来一个神话故事,但我们显然在做到某种程度的事情”,他回应,“我们砍200根牛毛,刮起一口气,然后就不会木偶很多头牛!”Sometime next year, researchers in BoyaLife’s laboratory on the outskirts of the coastal city of Tianjin will take skin cells from a few carefully chosen cattle (Kobe beef is Mr Xu’s favourite). The scientists will extract the nucleus from each cell and place it into an unfertilised egg from another cow. The cloned embryos will then be implanted in surrogate dairy cows housed on cattle ranches throughout China.明年某个时候,坐落于沿海城市天津郊区的博雅实验室的研究人员,将从几头精心挑选出的牛萃取皮肤细胞(神户牛肉是许晓椿的最喜欢)。这些科学家将从每个细胞中萃取细胞核,将其重复使用另一头牛的还并未受精卵的卵细胞。接着克隆胚胎将被植入中国各地养牛场的领养奶牛体内。

His ambition is staggering. Starting with 100,000 cloned cattle embryos a year in “phase one”, Mr Xu envisages 1m annually at some point in the future. That would make BoyaLife by far the largest clone factory in the world.他的远大理想是难以置信的。他计划“一期”每年生产10万个克隆牛胚胎,未来将每年生产100万个。

这将令博雅沦为全球遥遥领先的仅次于克隆工厂。Mr Xu says the latest techniques enable cloning to be carried out in an “assembly line format” at a rate of less than 1 minute per cell. Based on a four- hour shift and 250 working days a year, a proficient cloner would “manufacture” 60,000 cloned cow embryos a year, he says, adding that a team of 50 will be sufficient for the planned scale of the project. Mr Xu plans to have a staff of 300 and eventual total investment is estimated at $500m.许晓椿回应,近期技术意味著,需要按照“生产线模式”以每个细胞将近1分钟的速度展开克隆。



许晓椿计划员工总数将超过300人,最后的投资总额预计将超过5亿美元。If the venture comes anywhere near achieving its goal, it will be another example of the recent surge of path-breaking, taboo-busting biotechnology research, with China introducing mass production and commercialisation of projects that are still in the experimental and clinical stages elsewhere.如果该项目相似超过其目标,它将代表着近期一连串突破迷信的开创性生物技术研究的又一例,在此类项目中,中国将其他国家仍正处于试验和临床阶段的技术投入量产和商业化。

China’s flag-bearer in biotech is BGI, formerly known as Beijing Genomics Institute and now based in Shenzhen. BGI has grown into the world’s biggest genomics organisation, with a huge capacity to read, analyse and alter DNA from plants, microbes, people and animals. It employs more than 2,000 PhD-level scientists and 200 top-of-the-range gene-sequencing machines.中国在生物技术领域的另一个旗手是总部坐落于深圳的华大基因(BGI),该公司的前身是北京基因组研究所(Beijing Genomics Institute)。华大基因已发展沦为全球仅次于基因组的组织,享有从植物、微生物、人类和动物身上加载、分析和转变DNA的强劲能力。该公司聘请2000多名博士级别的科学家和200台顶级基因测序设备。In September BGI captured the public imagination with an announcement that “micropigs”, originally developed for biomedical research through gene editing and cloning, would be sold as pets.今年9月,华大基因宣告将销售通过基因编辑和克隆研发的“迷你猪”(最初用作生物医学研究)宠物,此举逃跑了公众的想象力。

Chinese scientists are enthusiastic adopters of a “gene editing” technology called Crispr, invented in the US about three years ago, which greatly accelerates the insertion and deletion of DNA in any type of living cell.中国科学家对于使用“出簇规律间隔较短回文反复序列”(Crispr)的“基因编辑”技术充满热情,该技术于约3年前在美国发明者,它大大减缓了对任何活体细胞放入和移除DNA的速度。In September researchers from several Chinese universities published a study of Shanbei cashmere goats, whose genes were edited to produce larger muscles and longer hair, making them potentially more valuable as sources of meat and textile fibres.今年9月,来自中国多所大学的研究人员公开发表了一项有关陕北绒山羊的研究,这些山羊经过基因编辑后,宽出有更加大块的肌肉和更长的毛,潜在让它们作为肉和纺织纤维的来源具备更高价值。“The results showed that simultaneous editing of several [DNA] sites was achieved in large animals, demonstrating that the Crispr system has the potential to become a robust and efficient gene engineering tool in farm animals and therefore will be critically important and applicable for breeding,” they wrote in Scientific Reports, a leading western journal.他们在西方领先刊物《科学报导》(Scientific Reports)上写到:“结果表明,已在大型动物体内构建多处DNA同时编辑,这指出Crispr体系未来将会沦为牲畜领域一件强劲且高效率的基因工程工具,因而将至关重要,而且限于于交配。

”But the most controversial application of gene editing is in human cells. In April scientists from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou used Crispr to modify the genomes of 85 non-viable human embryos, despite a number of pre-emptive articles in western medical journals urging them not to do it. Although the experiment failed, it provoked an outcry from scientific peers and ominous headlines about the risks to passing on genetic changes to future human generations.但最不具争议的基因编辑应用于是人体细胞。今年4月,广州中山大学(Sun Yat-sen University)的科学家利用Crispr技术改动了85个无法存活的人类胚胎的基因组,尽管西方医学期刊上很多文章事前呼吁他们不要这么做到。尽管这项实验告终了,但它引起了科学界同行的强烈抗议以及媒体的不祥头条,称之为风险在于把基因变化传送给人类后代。

While China’s biotech sector overall is small in financial terms — a study by McKinsey last month found that Chinese biotech companies account for less than 3 per cent of global revenues in the sector worldwide — they aspire to be world leaders in some of the most advanced and controversial biotech. Critics say this is partly due to looser regulations and a more relaxed treatment in China of some of the ethical issues involved.总体而言,从收益来看,中国生物技术领域规模较小(麦肯锡(McKinsey) 10月的一项研究找到,中国生物技术公司占该行业全球营收的将近3%),但他们期望在一些最先进设备和最不具争议的生物技术领域沦为全球领袖。批评者回应,部分原因是中国的法规更为严格,对牵涉到的一些道德问题态度也较为随意。

In contrast, cloning of farm animals is effectively outlawed in Europe, which is where the technology started with the birth in 1996 of Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. Roslin has moved away from cloning to other areas of animal research, and today its scientists are reluctant to talk about the issue.相比之下,在欧洲,克隆牲畜实质上已被界定为非法。1996年,爱丁堡的罗斯林研究所(Roslin Institute)克隆出有多利羊,为全球首例克隆动物。

该研究所已从克隆改向其他动物研究领域,如今该所的科学家不愿谈论克隆话题。The European Parliament voted by a large majority in September to ban agricultural cloning and the sale of cloned livestock on the grounds that cloned offspring suffer more health problems than conventional animals.欧盟议会(European Parliament)今年9月高票通过禁令农业克隆和销售克隆牲畜,理由是克隆的后代比常规后代的动物不存在更加多身体健康问题。In the US, on the other hand, cattle have been cloned successfully for several years. In 2008 the US Food and Drug Administration ruled that the practice was safe; the leading livestock cloning company ViaGen, a subsidiary of Intrexon, says it “has successfully delivered thousands of healthy cloned animals to clients”.另一方面,美国早已倒数好几年顺利克隆牛。

2008年,美国食品药品监督管理局(FDA)裁决克隆牛的作法安全性。Intrexon的子公司、领先牲畜克隆公司ViaGen回应,它“早已顺利地向客户交付给数千头身体健康的克隆动物”。Mr Xu says people may be applying double standards when they judge China. “We are [cloning] on a scale of millions, and suddenly people say, ‘Gee, do they have a lower standard of ethics?’ We do not. We just do things on a massive scale,” he says. “If we made a factory that produces 10 cows a year rather than a million, no one would even blink.”许晓椿回应,在评判中国的事务时,人们有可能在运用双重标准。“我们要以数百万的规模(展开克隆),突然间人们说道,‘呀,他们的道德标准是不是较为较低?’我们的标准并不较低。

我们只是规模更大而已,”他回应,“如果我们修建一家每年只出产10头牛而不是100万头牛的工厂,人们连眼睛都会眨一下。”However, according to Yusheng Wei, researcher at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences, unclear and incomplete rules make it easier to push ethical boundaries in China. “It’s not so much that we have a different ethical system but that China is relatively new to this field, and there are not enough laws and restrictions in place,” he says. “Chinas rapid progress in gene technology does have something to do with loose regulations. It’s hard for regulations to keep up with the development.”然而,根据北京大学生命科学学院研究者韦玉生的众说纷纭,涉及规则的不明晰和不完善,使得中国的科学家更容易容忍道德底线。“与其说我们有一套有所不同的道德体系,不如说中国在这个领域比较较新的,涉及的法律和容许严重不足,”他说道,“中国在基因技术方面的较慢变革的确和严格的法规有关。

法规无法跟上发展。”Mr Wei says there is disagreement even within the Chinese scientific establishment over some aspects of gene modification. “There are no ethical debates over cloning,” he adds. “It’s just that everything is being drowned out by the debate over gene modification.”韦玉生回应,即使是在中国科学界的体制内部,对于基因修饰的某些方面也不存在分歧。“没关于克隆的道德辩论,”他补足道,“一切都被有关基因修饰的辩论水淹了。”If there is an ethical gap between Chinese and western research, as some believe, it is narrowing as “Chinese scientists are being brought into the global scientific community”, says Peter Mills, assistant director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in London.如果的确像某些人所指出的那样,中国和西方的研究之间不存在道德差距,那么据伦敦纳菲尔德生命伦理委员会(Nuffield Council on Bioethics)副主任彼得猠尔斯(Peter Mills)回应,这个差距也于是以因“中国科学家渐渐被带入全球科学界”而增大。

An encouraging sign of this process is the key role played by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in organising a meeting on gene editing in Washington next week, along with the US National Academy of Sciences and UK’s Royal Society.这一进程中一个令人鼓舞的迹象是,中国科学院与美国国家科学院(National Academy of Sciences)及英国皇家学会(Royal Society)下周将在华盛顿联合主办一场基因编辑会议,中科院在其中充分发挥了关键作用。“We would like to work together with international communities for the proper regulation and application of such technology,” says Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy.“我们期望与国际社会合作,对这类技术展开适当监管和应用于,”中国科学院院长白春礼回应。Mr Xu points out that the FDA last week approved transgenic salmon, the first genetically engineered animal to be permitted for sale as food. Chinese regulators have not approved any GM animal to be used as food, nor have they approved GM crops to be planted in China for human consumption, with some minor exceptions. They do allow the import of a number of GM strains, notably soya beans used in cooking oil and animal feed.许晓椿认为,上周FDA批准后了转基因三文鱼,这是第一种被批准后作为食物销售的基因工程动物。

中国监管机构仍未批准后任何转基因动物被用于食品,也没批准后在中国栽种可供人食用的转基因作物(有少数值得注意)。中国监管机构容许进口几种转基因品种,主要是用作食用油和动物饲料的转基因大豆。While scientists have generally welcomed the FDA approval of GM salmon, there may be consumer resistance to the fish in the US, where environmental groups are pushing retailers to boycott the product. This week Friends of the Earth called on supporters to “celebrate” as Costco “joined more than 60 grocery store chains nationwide, including Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Target and Whole Foods, that listened to the science and consumers and made commitments to not sell this unnecessary, risky and unlabelled ‘frankenfish’.”尽管科学家广泛青睐FDA批准后转基因三文鱼,但这种鱼可能会遭美国消费者的杯葛,美国的一些环保的组织正在敦促零售商杯葛这种产品。

最近,地球之友(Friends of the Earth)敦促支持者“欢庆”,因为好事多(Costco)“重新加入克罗格餐馆(Kroger)、Safeway、Trader Joe’s、Target、Whole Foods等全国60余家连锁生鲜餐馆的行列,征询科学家和消费者的意见,允诺不销售这种无适当、有风险和予以标记的‘科学怪鱼’。”When it comes to scientifically enhanced food, Mr Xu says Chinese consumers are more conservative than their American counterparts. So cloned beef may be a tough sell. “It’s always hard to get people to try new things. It’s hard to get them to trust science.”对于用科学手段强化的食物,许晓椿回应,中国消费者比美国消费者更加激进。



”Mr Xu uses an analogy to illustrate why cloned meat is intrinsically safe. “If you have a glass of water and you pour half into another glass, that would be cloning. If you add a drop of ink into a glass of water, that would be genetically modifying. The determining factor is whether you change the species.”许晓椿用一个转换来解释为何克隆肉从本质上说道是安全性的。“如果你有一杯水,你把其中半杯倒入另一个杯子里,这就是克隆。如果你往这杯水里加一滴墨水,这就是基因修饰。

决定因素是你否转变了物种。”That is true in theory, but in practice there are obstacles to creating a perfect replica, says Kehkooi Kee of Tsinghua University. “There are risks because it won’t be an exact copy,” he says.清华大学的纪家葵(Kehkooi Kee)回应,理论上这是准确的,但在实践中,建构极致的复制品是有障碍的,“因为会是几乎一样的拷贝,所以这是有风险的。”But Mr Xu says cloning is the best way to produce enough elite calves to satisfy growing demand for the meat that China is consuming in greater quantities as incomes rise. “Cloned beef is the tastiest beef I’ve had,” he says.但徐晓椿回应,随着收益快速增长,中国人的肉类消费量大大下降,克隆是供应充足的优质牛犊,以符合日益增长的市场需求的最佳办法。