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Into the womb

发布时间:2019-03-08 02:06:03来源:未知点击:

By Nell Boyce in Washington DC GENE therapy could be used on human fetuses sooner than expected. Next month, a prenatal treatment for cystic fibrosis will be tested on rhesus monkeys. The technique could be ready for human trials in the US before the end of the year. The prospect of prenatal gene therapy was raised last year by French Anderson of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. But he does not intend to begin human trials for several years (This Week, 10 October 1998, p 5). The cystic fibrosis therapy was developed by Janet Larson at the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans. People with cystic fibrosis carry a mutated form of a gene called CFTR which causes mucus to accumulate in their lungs. Larson’s team has already cured the disease in fetal rats and mice by injecting a cold virus engineered to carry CFTR into the amniotic fluid of pregnant females. Larson now plans to try the therapy on 12 pregnant rhesus monkeys. The fetuses will not have cystic fibrosis, but she will test the technique by looking for unusually high levels of activity in the CFTR gene after the monkeys are born. If the results are positive, the therapy could be tested on pregnant women carrying fetuses with cystic fibrosis. Prenatal gene therapy remains controversial, partly because of fears that the genes might invade reproductive tissues,