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
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.