Somatic gene therapy: striking to the roots of disease (Short version of the TA study 'Gene therapy')

Eckhardt A
Record ID 31999009738
English, French, German
Authors' objectives:

To summarise the evidence relating to somatic gene therapy.

Authors' recommendations: Somatic gene therapy, which aims at body- but not at germ- line cells, is an approach to the causal treatment of diseases. It has a high therapeutic potential and a wide spectrum of applications. Important fields of application are cancer, infections (e.g. AIDS) and hereditary diseases. The method is rapidly evolving and still in its experimental stage. So far no gene-therapy protocol has been convincingly successful in the treatment of human disease. The biomedical risks of somatic gene therapy concentrate on the treated patients and are comparable with those of conventional medical techniques. If effective gene therapy combined with other new medical techniques would be applied to larger groups of patients, their quality of life as well as the average expectation of life could possibly increase. The consequences for public and private budgets are complex and their balance cannot yet be estimated. Public research institutions would profit by projects concerning somatic gene therapy because of an increased financial supply by third party. Although the important Swiss pharmaceutical companies assess somatic gene therapy as a high-risk business, they carry our research in this field and increase their competence by take-over of or alliances with dedicated gene therapy firms. Up to now no small gene therapy firm exists in Switzerland. Like other new technologies, gene therapy opens the door to numerous additional possibilities, which at the same time inquire decisions in a wide range of new and complex questions. Which patient might be entitled to gene therapy-treatment and under which conditions for instance has to be clarified in an ethical context. In Swiss legislation numerous regulations are applicable to human gene therapy. Concerning future legislation, clear administrative processes are to be aimed at. The responsible application of gene therapy requires an active social discourse, on the national as well as on the international level. Universally accepted minimal standards should be combined with efficient executive tools.
Authors' methods: Overview
Project Status: Completed
URL for project: http:/
Year Published: 1999
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: Switzerland
Organisation Name: Centre for Technology Assessment at the Swiss Science and Technology Council
Contact Address: Birkenweg 61, 3003 Bern, Switzerland. Tel: +41 31 322 9966; Fax: +41 31 323 3659
Contact Name:
Contact Email:
Copyright: Centre for Technology Assessment at the Swiss Science and Technology Council
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.