Gene therapy comes roaring back
Gene therapy has always been controversial, mostly because it got off to a promising start and then floundered for almost a decade. But now it is the "comeback kid" of biotech, and is involved in almost 600 clinical trials in 20 countries. Gene therapy holds promise for the 5 percent or so of children worldwide who are born with congenital or hereditary problems as well as the nearly 40 percent of adults thought to have some genetic predisposition to conditions ranging from minor ailments to killers such as cancer and sickle cell anaemia.
The therapy involves substituting a good gene for one that is defective.
Scientists have now found that adding genes that cause the right proteins to be produced can potentially alleviate any number of disorders from Parkinson's to heart disease to AIDS, although about two-thirds of clinical trials are for cancer.
Researchers at Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania have found that among 26 different cancer cell lines including tumours of the lung, head and neck, oesophagus, stomach, cervix, pancreas and kidney new genes inhibited cancer cell growth in more than half of the experiments.
There has been only one gene-therapy related death and researchers have been able to trace what went wrong thereby being able to avoid such an outcome in the future.
Source: Michael Fumento (Hudson Institute), A New Start for Gene Therapy, Washington Times, October 31, 2002.
For text http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20021031-11641000.htm
For more on Medical Research http://www.ncpa.org/iss/hea
FMF Policy Bulletin \7 November 2002
Publish date: 13 November 2002
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.