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Newsletter October 2010

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News: First patient being treated by Stem cell therapy
An unnamed person suffering from a spinal cord injury has become the first patient to receive Stem Cell Therapy for his/her injuries and is being treated at the Shepherd Center, a 132-bed hospital in Atlanta specializing in spinal cord and brain injuries. The treatment is being sponsored by Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, California. Without releasing any information about the patient or the nature of the injury, doctors have said that the treatment will be one of first to test the effectiveness and safety of such a process and tests will be conducted to see whether the treatment restores sensation or enables the patient to regain movement.

News: Leading gene therapy researcher retracts more papers
Savio Woo of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York has retracted two more papers this week, the blog Retraction Watch reported today. That brings Woo’s total number of retractions this year to six, following an investigation that found evidence of scientific misconduct committed by two of his postdocs. Four of the six retracted papers, including the two most recently pulled, describe a technique that harnesses a viral enzyme called ‘phiBT1 integrase’ to shuttle genes into the mouse genome, particularly in the liver. The retractions for all of these papers merely cite “data irregularities”. Michele Calos, a geneticist at Stanford University, says her lab was unable to reproduce the phiBT1 work and found numerous factual errors in the published procedures. Also, Woo’s team claimed that phiBT1 only inserted into the genome at the regions between genes—a key advantage of the technique because it reduced the odds that an insertion would disrupt the function of a normal gene. But that didn’t hold up in her lab, Calos notes.

News: Gene Therapy Stops Blood Disorder in Patient, Ending Need for Transfusions
A 21-year-old man with a blood disorder who needed monthly transfusions to survive since he was 3 had his condition halted by a gene therapy procedure. The man suffered from beta thalassemia, a common genetic disease that reduces red blood cell production. He was treated in Paris in 2007 and hasn’t needed a transfusion in two years, according to a study published today in the journal Nature. The therapy, being developed by closely held Bluebird Bio of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the latest in a series of successful gene treatments. Bluebird, backed by four venture capital firms and Genzyme Corp., the world’s largest maker of drugs for rare genetic diseases, plans to treat nine more patients who have thalassemia or sickle cell anemia. The company also is developing a gene therapy that has helped patients with a rare vision disorder to see.

Conference: International Symposium ‘Genetically modified viruses as medicine’, panacea or pandora's box?'
The use of genetically modified (GM) viruses to cure diseases is a vast developing and exciting field. In recent clinical trials promising results have been achieved. The application of replicating viral vectors as a treatment modality for cancer patients appears to come within reach. In view of these developments the Netherlands Commission on Genetic Modification (COGEM), organizes an international symposium on the use of replicating viral vectors as medicine.
This symposium will focus on the upcoming field of cancer treatment. Besides technical information and state-of-the-art developments we also want to give attention to the strengths of replicating viral vectors and the opportunities for patients, the environmental risk assessment and the possible concerns in society about the use of replicating GM viruses. Thereby, this symposium is not solely meant for scientists but also for policymakers and otherwise interested audience.

Data and location: 20th January 2011, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Confirmed Speakers: Prof.dr. Stephen Russell, Mayo Clinic, USA; Dr. Matt Coffey, Oncolytics Biotech Inc., Canada; Prof.dr. Clemens Dirven, Erasmus MC and Dr. Sabine Roeser, TU Delft.

International Symposium ‘Genetically modified viruses as medicine’, panacea or pandora's box?'


- 22 - 25 October 2010, European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT) 18th Annual Congress, Milan, Italy
- 2 November 2010, FDA Public Workshop on Cell and Gene Therapy Clinical Trials in Pediatric Populations, North Bethesda, MD
- 16 November 2010, 3rd annual Workshop on Genome Engineering, Seattle, WA
- 17 - 19 November 2010, 9th Annual Gene Therapy Symposium for Heart, Lung, and Blood Diseases. Focus Topic: Gene Expression, Sonoma, CA
- 19 November 2010, 4th Annual Conference of the Korea Society of Gene Therapy (KSGT), Seoul, Korea
- 20 January 2011, COGEM Symposium: GM viruses as medicine: panacea or pandora's box?, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- 24 - 26 January 2011, Phacilitate 7th Annual Cell & Gene Therapy Forum 2011, Washington DC, MD
- 10 - 11 March 2011, Spring Meeting of the Dutch Society of Gene Therapy (NVGT), Heeze, The Netherlands
- 16 - 19 March 2011, 6th International Conference on Oncolytic Viruses as Cancer Therapeutics, Las Vegas, NV
- 4 - 6 May 2011, Australasian Gene Therapy Society (AGTS) 7th Meeting, Melbourne, Australia
- 18 - 21 May 2011, International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) 17th Annual Meeting, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- 18 - 22 May 2011, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) 14th Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA
- 29 May - 2 June 2011, Gordon Research Conference: Virusses & Cells, Lucca (Barga), Italy
- 15 – 17 July 2011, The 17th Annual Meeting of the Japan Society of Gene Therapy (JSGT), Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
- 27 - 31 October 2011, British Society of Gene Therapy (BSGT) 8th Annual Conference, Brighton, UK


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