Making Gene Therapy Safer

April 10, 2015

(Medical Xpress) – Ex vivo gene therapy is a medical technique in which stem cells are taken from the patient, and their deficient genes are switched with healthy ones. The stem cells are grown in the lab and re-inserted into the patient. However, this method often has health risks, such as leukemia and mutations. The problem is that most stem cells cannot be grown efficiently with current technologies, and the resulting cell population in the lab can contain a mix of healthy and unhealthy cells. Scientists at EPFL have developed a selection process that can detect the cells that have taken up the healthy genes with great specificity, greatly reducing the risks of ex vivo gene therapy.