Monday, September 25, 2000
WASHINGTON - The death of Jesse Gelsinger in a gene therapy
trial has brought a number of legitimate concerns to light, ranging from arrogant
and sloppy clinical practices that endangered human lives to failure to establish
and implement quality assurance programs. But efforts to manage the safe development
of gene therapy cannot be helped when an otherwise credible scientific organization
uses its academic credentials to suggest that the technology is out of control.
A report released last week by the American Academy for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS) relies on hyperbole to bolster its unspectacular
and generally reasonable policy recommendations about the oversight of medical
interventions that could cause human inheritable genetic modifications (IGM).