Revising rules

Published: Friday 30 April 1999

the Japanese government is considering revising its guidelines on gene therapy. The present rules, which were introduced in 1994, limits researchers to its use only for treatment of terminal 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 the patient losing a limb.

Officials said the health and welfare ministry and the education ministry are expected to revise their guidelines by the end of the year. The therapy is expected to be limited to the treatment of chronic diseases affecting blood vessels, muscles and nerves. Gene therapy, first introduced in the us in 1990, has been used in over 3,000 clinical studies. Although the success of the treatment has been extremely limited, no harmful side-effects have been reported so far.

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