"A patient in a gene therapy experiment died on Tuesday in what may have been a reaction to a novel treatment for arthritis, federal health officials said late yesterday.
The precise cause of death remains unexplained. But the event immediately revived memories of a similar tragedy in 1999, when teenager Jesse Gelsinger succumbed in a gene therapy test in which researchers were eventually shown to have violated safety rules.
That disaster was a major setback for the field, which for more than 15 years has sought to treat diseases by giving people new genes. The only documented successes -- in a handful of children -- were undermined when the treatment was found to have caused cancer in some."
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