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France halts gene therapy trials. (BBC news)



On 3 Oct 2002, at 11:08, RBBAX@aol.com wrote:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2295707.stm

Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 

France halts gene therapy trials


The French Government has ordered a stop to gene therapy trials 
after
a child developed leukaemia after undergoing treatment.

France's public health agency Doctors at the Necker- Enfants 
Malades
clinic in Paris were trying to cure the child of the potentially life-
threatening disease Severe Combined Immunodeficiency syndrome 
(SCID). 

Children with SCID or "bubble boy" disease are born without an 
immune
system. This is caused by a single mutated gene. 

Children with the condition must live in sterile conditions or risk
picking up a life-threatening infection. 

UK success

The treatment has been carried out successfully in the UK. 

Earlier this year, doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 
London
cured 18-month-old Rhys Evans of the condition. 

The decision by the French Government to halt trials prompted
authorities in the UK to also consider whether treatments should be
allowed to continue. 

But members of the UK Department of Health's advisory committee have
ruled that trials will continue but will be closely monitored. 

Gene therapy is controversial. Until recently there was no evidence
that the treatment worked. 

Trials were halted in the United States a few years ago after the
death of one patient. 

A total of eight children were undergoing gene therapy treatment at
the Paris clinic. 

Investigation

France's public health agency said the treatments were halted as soon
as the complications were discovered. 

In a statement, it said: "The trials at the clinic have been suspended
as a precaution until investigations into the causes have been
completed." 

It added: "The other children are in good health." 

The investigation is hoping to determine whether the child developed
leukaemia by coincidence, or as a result of the treatment. 

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