News & CommentGene Therapy

Varmus Proposes to Scrap the RAC

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Science  17 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5264, pp. 945
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5264.945a


Harold Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told Science that he will announce this week a plan to “dissolve” NIH's Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) and end the practice of subjecting each proposed new clinical gene therapy trial to public review. RAC—which includes lawyers, ethicists, public representatives, and clinicians—has served for 8 years as the final gauntlet that gene therapists must clear before getting approval to start a clinical trial. Instead, Varmus would like to leave detailed safety analyses to others—including the closed-door reviews of the Food and Drug Administration—while focusing NIH's attention on big issues in gene therapy.