Virus used in gene therapies may pose cancer risk

Just as gene therapy finally seems to be living up to its promise, a study has revived a lingering worry about the viral vessel that many efforts rely on to ferry therapeutic genes into patients. This “vector,” a stripped-down version of adeno-associated virus (AAV), was thought to be safe because it rarely knits the human DNA it carries into a cell’s chromosomes, where it might activate cancer-causing genes. But a study of dogs with hemophilia, treated with AAV up to 10 years earlier, has shown that the vector can readily insert its payload into the host’s DNA near genes that control cell growth.


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