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Science
FRONTIERS
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Wednesday 21:00-21:30
Frontiers explores new ideas in science, meeting the researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories - as well as hearing from their critics. Many such developments create new ethical and moral questions and Frontiers is not afraid to consider these.
radioscience@bbc.co.uk
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Listen to 26 November
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Wednesday 26 November  2003
David Vetter - The original "Bubble Boy" - with his mother.
David Vetter, the boy with SCID whose fate was dramatized in the 1970s by a documentary film, with his mother, Carol Ann Vetter. Courtesy Duke Medical Center News Office.

Gene Therapy
When doctors in France announced in April 2000 that they had carried out the first successful human gene therapy trial, the news was hailed as a medical breakthrough. But, three years on, problems began to emerge.

In this week's Frontiers, Peter Evans assesses the current state of gene therapy, and asks if it's living up to its original promise.

"Bubble Babies"
Gene therapy was first used in Britain and France to treat young children born without functioning immune systems, a condition known as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID).

These children were previously forced to live in sealed, sterilized environments.

The therapy was initially successful - it was only later that complications arose, when two French children developed leukaemia-like symptoms, as a direct result of the treatment.

Three Years On
Peter Evans goes to France to meet the team who carried out these first gene therapy treatments, and hears about their current efforts to understand and resolve the complications. Peter also talks to doctors who are developing gene therapies for haemophilia and cancer.

There's still a long way to go, but the researchers remain confident that - given time - gene therapy will eventually become an accepted a part of medical practice.
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