The National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) will consider a wide-ranging set of issues over the next year, including what gene therapy vectors could replace retroviruses and what is required to win FDA approval of new vectors so they can be used in clinical trials, members said at a June 18 meeting in Bethesda, Maryland.

"We were looking in the broadest sense at the state of the art of retroviral vectors," said committee member Madison Powers, director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, in explaining the group's choice of topics for future discussion. Another question that arises, Powers said, is what safety modifications could be adopted for use of retroviral vectors in clinical settings.

Although Powers didn't make the direct link in his comments, clinical trials using retroviruses have attracted closer scrutiny since last fall, after patients in French studies using retroviruses to insert...

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