Correcting the Code: Inventing the Genetic Cure for the Human Body

Larry Thompson, Author
Larry Thompson, Author Simon & Schuster $22.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-77082-2
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In 1990 Ashanti DeSilva, a 4-year-old girl from a Cleveland suburb with a life-threatening hereditary immune disorder, underwent partially successful gene therapy. Doctors of the National Institutes of Health, led by molecular biologist William French Anderson, inserted a normal copy of a critical gene--one she had been born without--into her white blood cells, restoring her ability to make a necessary enzyme. Today more than 100 patients worldwide have had genes put into their bodies in therapeutic studies that may one day yield a cure for diseases ranging from cancer to muscular dystrophy. In this clearly written, brisk report, Thompson, a Medical News Network correspondent and former Washington Post science editor, does an excellent job of mapping the genetic engineering revolution of the 1970s and '80s which made gene therapy possible. Both supporters and critics of human bioengineering will find much to ponder in his coverage of the political battles, technical hurdles and ethical issues that beset a burgeoning field. (Mar.)
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