Guidelines to be revised

Published: Monday 15 February 1999

THE Japanese government is considering revising its guidelines on gene therapy. Current rules, introduced in 1994, allow only researchers to use gene therapy in the treatment of serious life threatening diseases such as cancer and AIDS. The move follows an application by researchers to Osaka University's ethics committee for permission to use gene therapy to treat a patient with obstructive arteriosclerosis, a chronic condition that could, result in amputation. However, present guidelines based on similar rules in the US, limit the use of gene therapy to life-threatening diseases because of fears that the treatment has not been proved to be safe.

Officials said the health and welfare ministry and the education ministry are expected to revise their guidelines which govern doctors and university researchers by the end of the year. The therapy is expected to be limited only to the treatment of chronic diseases.

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