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About Medical Gene Transfer


Sometimes called "gene therapy," medical gene transfer involves adding or modifying genes in a person's cells (other than those found in his or her sperm or eggs). The "new" genes are intended to function in ways that would alleviate a medical condition. They would not be passed on to any future generations.


Arguments Pro & Con

Gene transfer may eventually become an effective treatment for some important medical conditions. Clinical trials have been underway since 1990, but so far have been mostly unsuccessful, involved several conflict-of-interest scandals, and produced adverse results including deaths.

Gene transfer has also been proposed for "enhancement" purposes. This application could raise troubling social and ethical questions.



Comment on use of mitochondrial manipulation techniques by US scientists in Mexico[Press statement]September 27th, 2016US fertility doctors announce the live birth of a child with the DNA of three people, performed in Mexico to avoid US regulation.
Stem Cell Advocates and Critics Push Back on FDA Guidelinesby Alexandra OssolaScientific AmericanSeptember 21st, 2016At a public hearing on how strictly therapies should be regulated, testimony noted the number of unscrupulous clinics preying on desperate patients with unsubstantiated claims.
Patients Turn To San Diego Stem Cell Companies For Costly, Unproven Treatmentsby David WagnerKPBSSeptember 20th, 2016An investigation reveals a US stem cell company is referring patients to Mexico for non-FDA approved therapies that may be causing harm.
Passing My Disability On to My Childrenby Sheila BlackNew York TimesSeptember 7th, 2016Drawing on personal experience, Sheila Black challenges the logic of creating "designer babies" with screening or modifying technologies.
Two Women Pregnant after Having Ovarian Mitochondria Injected into EggsThe Japan TimesAugust 30th, 2016Some experts are calling for a careful response to the new procedure, as its safety and effects have not yet been scientifically verified.
Stem-Cell Treatments Become More Available, and Face More Scrutinyby Melinda BeckWall Street JournalAugust 29th, 2016Critics say the clinics are peddling 21st century snake oil and want the FDA to crack down.
Why Gene Tests for Cancer Don't Offer More Answersby Jessica WapnerScientific AmericanAugust 29th, 2016Genetic profiling of tumors has a long way to go. Many patients learn that their cancers have mutations for which no drug exists
Experimental Cancer Therapy Holds Great Promise But at Great Costby Meghana KeshavanSTATAugust 23rd, 2016Patients undergoing immunotherapy clinical trials with CAR-T cells are at risk for deadly cytokine release syndrome, but pharmaceutical companies are racing to get FDA approval.
These New Stem Cell Treatments Are Expensive and Unprovenby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesAugust 19th, 2016"Stem cells have become a medical buzzword," Paul Knoepfler notes. "I see a lot of businesses using direct marketing to patients to take advantage of that."
In CRISPR Fight, Co-Inventor Says Broad Institute Misled Patent Officeby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewIs an email between competing researchers a smoking gun in the billion-dollar battle over patent rights for gene editing?
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