‘Miracle’ gene therapy trial halted

A gene therapy trial patient developed leukemia as a direct consequence of the experimental treatment, and the study was halted immediately. Apparently the altered gene inserted itself next to an oncogene, and when the two-and-a-half year old boy developed a case of the chicken pox, the gene was activated and he began to produce excess quantities of white blood cells. The boy is responding well to chemotherapy, and trials will continue because some people will undoubtedly die without gene therapy treatment. I believe this just illustrates the fact that every new treatment is bound to have some risks, especially when we don’t yet understand exactly how the human genome works.

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