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How optimistic should we be about gene therapy?

Jul 5, 2009

I came across this article today:

I am trying to contain my optimism and excitement about this. I have searched tirelessly for any kind of information about the most cutting-edge trials that may be happening now to combat HIV once and for all. I have never been able to find an article like this that is current (I don't like looking at anything over a year old since this field of research is constantly in a state of change). I often wonder if this disease is simply going to be the end of humanity, and it makes me angry that there are so many people suffering, including myself (my partner is positive and all I want is for him to live), and nobody can seem to do anything about it. I know there are a great number of people dedicated to finding a cure, or at least a preventative vaccine, and maybe longer-lasting treatments, and I respect and bow down to these people with gratitude. But it's difficult to be optimistic and upbeat in a world continues to be at the mercy of this vicious disease.

Sorry for all the drama. My point, or my question, is simply in what I should or should not put my faith in. Is the source of this article reliable? I'm sure that these gene therapy trials aren't as simple as this article makes it out to be. Does anyone know when we can expect results from these trials? Could this be the final stretch toward finding a solution? And if it doesn't work, are we simply doomed?

I realize that was a lot of questions. You can feel free to just answer one if you'd like. I just want to hear from an expert before I get my hopes up. Thank you so much for your time, and for all the wonderful work you do.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

I think we can be cautiously optimistic about gene transfer studies as a treatment option. In addition to the strategy in the article you cite, several other gene candidates are being looked at. So far, there is nothing to call a significant success yet. Many excellent investigators are involved and the strategy is also being investigated in many other diseases, so we will be able to learn from them as well.

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