from the bespoke-treatments dept.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
A new era of treating disease has moved a step closer to reality in the United States.
A Food and Drug Administration panel gave a thumbs-up Wednesday to a gene therapy that involves genetically engineering a patient's T-cells to fight a particular type of leukemia, The New York Times reports.
If the FDA agrees with the panel's recommendation and moves to approve the treatment for commercial use, it would be the first such gene-altering treatment to make it to market.
[...] Once the stuff of science fiction, altering human genes has been creeping into reality of late. Also on Wednesday, researchers at Harvard announced they'd managed to encode video files into the genetic material of living cells, demonstrating the viability of a "molecular recorder" that could lead to more disease treatments in the future.
-- submitted from IRC
"Biohackers" are growing bolder with their self-experimentation:
Aaron Traywick, 28, who leads biotech firm Ascendance Biomedical, used an experimental herpes treatment that did not go through the typical route of clinical trials to test its safety. Instead of being developed by research scientists in laboratories, it was created by a biohacker named Andreas Stuermer, who "holds a masters degree and is a bioentrepreneur and science lover," according to a conference bio. This is typical of the Ascendance approach. The company believes that FDA regulations for developing treatments are too slow and that having biohackers do the research and experiment on themselves can speed up the process to everyone's benefit. In the past, the company's plans have included trying to reverse menopause, a method that is now actually in clinical trials.
"We prefer to do everything before a live audience so you can hold us accountable in the days to come as we collect the data to prove whether or not this works," Traywick said before last night's spectacle. And, he added, "if we succeed with herpes in even the most minor ways, we can move forward immediately with cancer."
Despite specifying that he wanted "technical questions," someone in the audience asked whether Ascendance had received ethical permission for the experiment. Traywick said he didn't. Technically, everything has been officially labeled "not for human consumption," he said.
Also at The Scientist.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a gene therapy for the first time, to treat a form of leukemia. Now an FDA panel has endorsed a gene therapy for an inherited form of blindness. The FDA usually follows the recommendations of its advisory committees:
Gene therapy, which has had a roller-coaster history of high hopes and devastating disappointments, took an important step forward Thursday. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee endorsed the first gene therapy for an inherited disorder — a rare condition that causes a progressive form of blindness that usually starts in childhood. The recommendation came in a unanimous 16-0 vote after a daylong hearing that included emotional testimonials by doctors, parents of children blinded by the disease and from children and young adults helped by the treatment.
"Before surgery, my vision was dark. It was like sunglasses over my eyes while looking through a little tunnel," 18-year-old Misty Lovelace of Kentucky, told the committee. "I can honestly say my biggest dream came true when I got my sight. I would never give it up for anything. It was truly a miracle." Several young people described being able to ride bicycles, play baseball, see their parents' faces, read, write and venture out of their homes alone at night for the first time. "I've been able to see things that I've never seen before, like stars, fireworks, and even the moon," Christian Guardino, 17, of Long Island, N.Y., told the committee. "I will forever be grateful for receiving gene therapy."
The FDA isn't obligated to follow the recommendations of its advisory committees, but the agency usually does. If the treatment is approved, one concern is cost. Some analysts have speculated it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat each eye, meaning the cost for each patient could approach $1 million. Spark Therapeutics of Philadelphia, which developed the treatment, hasn't said how much the company would charge. But the company has said it would help patients get access to the treatment.
Despite the likely steep price tag, the panel's endorsement was welcomed by scientists working in the field. "It's one of the most exciting things for our field in recent memory," says Paul Yang, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Oregon Health and Science University who wasn't involved in developing or testing the treatment. "This would be the first approved treatment of any sort for this condition and the first approved gene therapy treatment for the eye, in general," Yang says. "So, on multiple fronts, it's a first and ushers in a new era of gene therapy."
Also at MIT.
After decades of hope and high promise, this was the year scientists really showed they could doctor DNA to successfully treat diseases. Gene therapies to treat cancer and even pull off the biblical-sounding feat of helping the blind to see were approved by U.S. regulators, establishing gene manipulation as a new mode of medicine.
Almost 20 years ago, a teen's death in a gene experiment put a chill on what had been a field full of outsized expectations. Now, a series of jaw-dropping successes have renewed hopes that some one-time fixes of DNA, the chemical code that governs life, might turn out to be cures. "I am totally willing to use the 'C' word," said the National Institutes of Health's director, Dr. Francis Collins.
[...] The advent of gene editing — a more precise and long-lasting way to do gene therapy — may expand the number and types of diseases that can be treated. In November, California scientists tried editing a gene inside someone's body for the first time using a tool called zinc finger nucleases for a man with a metabolic disease. It's like a cut-and-paste operation to place a new gene in a specific spot. Tests of another editing tool called CRISPR to genetically alter human cells in the lab may start next year. "There are a few times in our lives when science astonishes us. This is one of those times," Dr. Matthew Porteus, a Stanford University gene editing expert, told a Senate panel discussing this technology last month.
Previously: Gene Therapy Cure for Sickle-Cell Disease
Gene Therapy to Kill Cancer Moves a Step Closer to Market
U.S. Human Embryo Editing Study Published
FDA Approves a Gene Therapy for the First Time
Gene Editing Without CRISPR -- Private Equity Raises $127 Million
FDA Committee Endorses Gene Therapy for a Form of Childhood Blindness
FDA Approves Gene Therapy for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Gene Therapy and Skin Grafting for Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa
Gene Therapy for Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1
Biohackers Disregard FDA Warning on DIY Gene Therapy
CRISPR Used to Epigenetically Treat Diseases in Mice
Gene Therapy Showing Promise for Hemophilia B
Gene Therapy for Retinal Dystrophy Approved by the FDA
CRISPR Treatment for Some Inherited Forms of Lou Gehrig's Disease Tested in Mice