April 27 Gene therapy is making a comeback, with
a flood deals, stock market debuts and increased investment by
big pharmaceutical companies.
But it remains a risky field, as highlighted by the failure
of an experimental heart treatment from Celladon in a
clinical trial, announced on Sunday.
The following is a timeline of developments in the
technology, which uses viruses to patch faulty genes with
1972 - Researchers first suggest gene therapy as a treatment
for genetic diseases in a paper in the journal Science but they
oppose its use in humans "for the foreseeable future", pending
greater understanding of the technology.
1990 - A four-year-old girl with severe immunodeficiency
became the first patient to undergo gene therapy in the United
1999 - American patient Jesse Gelsinger dies following a
gene therapy experiment, setting the field back several years as
U.S. regulators put some key experiments on hold.
2002-03 - Cases of leukaemia are diagnosed in French
children undergoing gene therapy for genetic immunodeficiency in
a further blow to the field.
2003 - The world's first gene therapy is approved in China
for the treatment of head and neck cancer.
2007 - British doctors carry out the world's first operation
using gene therapy to treat a serious sight disorder caused by a
2012 - Europe approves the first gene therapy in a Western
market to treat an ultra-rare blood disorder.
2014 - Gene therapy shows promise in clinical trials for
inherited blood disorders, certain types of progressive
blindness and HIV.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Louise Heavens)