Don’t Be Fooled By The Gene Therapy Hype

Gene therapy is the next big thing for Big Pharma. We’re being told that drugs that have the ability to alter or repair our genes will keep us young and conquer everything from hair loss to cancer.

But like my Dad always said: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Keep it under wraps

As is the case with any drug or vaccine Big Pharma develops, there’s a side to gene therapy that drug companies don’t want you to know about. In fact, they will probably do anything in their power to sweep it under the rug.

I’m talking about stories of cancer, organ failure, internal bleeding, and sudden death that Big Pharma hopes you will never hear.

The pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the major players in the race to get the first gene therapy drug approved. GSK is now asking European drug regulators to approve a gene therapy injection that will treat ADA-SCID, a rare immune system disorder often called “Bubble Boy” disease.

As expected, once this drug is approved, Big Pharma will bombard drug regulators across the globe with approval applications for more of these drugs to treat everything from haemophilia to cancer. It’s no wonder that GSK calls the gene therapy gold rush a “new era in medicine.”

But here’s the thing, much as Big Pharma prefers to talk about gene therapy as a thing of the future, it actually already has a very ugly history.

Gene therapy works by using viruses – often called vectors – to deliver corrected genes to our cells. Now, there is no guarantee that the genes will ever arrive at the right destination or function correctly… and when they don’t, the consequences can be disastrous.

Researchers previously tested gene therapy in children suffering from that same ADA-SCID immune disorder. Five of the children developed leukaemia after the inserted genes accidentally attached themselves to a gene that regulates cell division. So, even if the alien genes injected into your body don’t harm you, the virus that delivers them can.

A case in point: When 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger, who had a metabolic disorder called OTC, was injected with a gene therapy drug his organs basically shut down. At the time doctors called it an “immune-system revolt.”

And then there’s the case of Jolee Mohr. She signed up for a clinical trial to see if gene therapy could help her chronic knee pain.

After just two injections, Jolee died from internal bleeding and kidney failure. Her husband says it’s clear the gene therapy industry is making millions of pounds without truly understanding what’s going on.

You may also remember a couple of years back when stories popped up all over the world about an experiment at the University of Pennsylvania that claimed to use gene therapy to “cure” blindness.

However, when patients began losing their sight again after a year, there was barely a whimper in the press about it… And the drug companies? Well, of course they kept just as quiet.

And that’s the real risk of gene therapy – the hype around it is offering false hope while putting people directly in harm’s way.

Dr. James M. Wilson still talks glowingly about the “simplicity of the concept.”

“You just put the gene in,” he said.

He was the head of the Penn Institute for Human Gene Therapy where Jesse Gelsinger got his gene therapy injection.

The one that killed him.

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“GSK readies ‘bubble boy’ drug as big pharma bets on gene therapy” Ben Hirschler, April 27, 2015, Reuters,

GlaxoSmithKline files for gene therapy OK as a case of the jitters sets in” John Carroll, May 5, 2015, FierceBiotech,