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Gene Editing

Acompany started by University of Pennsylvania scientist Jim Wilson has received FDA approval to test a form of gene editing in infants for the first time in the United States, the company said Thursday.

The Plymouth Meeting company, iECURE, is developing a treatment for babies whose livers are unable to make a crucial enzyme.

Infants born with a severe form of the illness can lapse into a coma within a day or two of birth, their brains damaged by a buildup of ammonia. Some die soon thereafter; the rest have little recourse beyond a liver transplant.

This is the same disease that Wilson was studying in a high-profile test that resulted in a patient death in 1999. The patient in that case, Jesse Gelsinger, had a mild form of the disease. The 18-year-old died after his body rejected the virus used to deliver the treatment.

In Wilson’s new approach with iECURE, the gene is delivered with a different type of virus that does not trigger the immune system — a delivery method that he already has licensed for use...