News of the WeekClinical Trials

Gene Therapy Death Prompts Review of Adenovirus Vector

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Science  17 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5448, pp. 2244-2245
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5448.2244

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For the past 3 months, faculty and staff members at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Human Gene Therapy have been trying to understand why a relatively fit 18-year-old with an inherited enzyme deficiency died on 17 September, 4 days after doctors at Penn injected a genetically altered virus into his liver. Last week, they presented their data to a government advisory committee. The patient was the first in a gene therapy trial to die of the therapy itself; his death is the latest blow to a field that has been struggling to live up to the promise and hype surrounding the first gene therapy trials a decade ago.