News & CommentBioethics

Panel Approves Gene Trial for ‘Normals’

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Science  14 Mar 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5306, pp. 1561
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5306.1561

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The panel that for more than a decade has vetted safety and ethical issues in U.S. human gene-therapy research—the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—ended its role as gatekeeper with a bang last week, grilling a researcher who had proposed a clinical trial that would inject engineered genes for the first time into normal, healthy volunteers. RAC's final act as enforcer also gave a preview of how it might handle the new role that NIH director Harold Varmus has envisioned for the committee—as a forum for debates on ethical issues.