The Scientist 13[15]:0, Jul. 19, 1999


Promise and Problems Loom for Stem Cell Gene Therapy

By Paul Smaglik

Photo courtesy of Harry Malech

A network of gas-permeable plastic bags connected by tubing helps make ex vivo stem cell gene therapy more feasible. The insides of the bags are coated with recombinant human fibronectin fragments. That protein helps more retroviruses carrying therapeutic genes to enter the targeted stem cells, which are also grown in bags. The tubing allows growth factors to be pumped easily into and out to the network. The bags also maximize the interaction between stem cell, virus, and fibronectin.

Stem cell transplantation and stem cell gene therapy share the same promise--and many of the same problems.

The promise looms so large that gene therapy researchers and transplant scientists alike often refer to stem cells as the "ultimate target."1 In the transplantation field, such progenitor cells purified...

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