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GENE THERAPY | New Pill Box Possibilities

"Take two genes and call me in the morning"--not exactly what one would expect a family doctor to say, but it could become a common prescription if a new "gene pill" pans out. James Hagstrom, vice president of Mirus, Madison, Wis., says "This technology would be extremely useful for wide ranging therapeutic applications." Hagstrom moderated a talk at the recent Knowledge Foundation conference.

To make a gene pill, researchers formulated DNA to survive the stomach's harsh environment and integrate into intestinal cells. Researcher David Olson, of Genteric, Alameda, Calif., which developed this new therapy, says that expression of a gene incorporated into intestinal cells would last about 10 days, because these cells undergo rapid turnover. Genteric showed that blood sugar dropped in diabetic mice that had received the human insulin...

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