March 8, 1997 |
Since Scottish biologist Ian Wilmut announced the successful cloning of a sheep, there has been a frenzy of fretting by scientists, ethicists and other learned types about scientists "playing God. " No less a sage than George Stephanopoulos intoned: "What this creates is the possibility of immortality. " In the midst of all this hype, we may need a reminder of just how far we are from achieving truly God-like mastery of our own flesh. By focusing almost exclusively on the advances of science, the media have credited science with much more power than it really has. Science has made little or no headway in crucial areas of research, and some of its reputed advances have proved to be illusory.
December 6, 1996 |
None of the half-dozen people gathered around the conference table at the Institute for Human Gene Therapy dared say a word. They just looked at institute director James M. Wilson and waited. Wilson said nothing at first. He took off his glasses, closed his eyes, and pinched the bridge of his nose. The body language was unmistakable to Colleen Baker, the 26-year-old manager of the institute's Human Applications Laboratory (HAL). Wilson never did this unless he was very displeased.
May 31, 1996 |
Seventeen-day-old Roberto Rodriguez 3d left the hospital yesterday, 3 1/2 months after he was operated on for a deadly condition while still in his mother's womb. His mother was 22 weeks pregnant, about four months from her due date, when doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia cut open her uterus, partially removed the half-pound fetus, took out a large growth destroying his left lung, and then tucked the fetus back into the womb. Thirteen weeks after the surgery, Roberto was born with a healthy set of lungs.
January 13, 1996 |
Wendy Barbara Latch Babb, 34, whose battle with cystic fibrosis led her to volunteer in an experimental gene therapy program in 1993, died Jan. 5 at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. A Palmyra resident, Mrs. Babb died after undergoing an experimental lung-transplant operation. She was one of three children born with cystic fibrosis. Her older sister, Susan H. Latch, died at age 17. Her younger brother, R. Scott Latch, also has the fatal genetic disease. In July, an Inquirer story detailed Mrs. Babb's participation in a gene-therapy program aimed at developing effective treatments for incurable diseases.
November 28, 1995 |
Only months away from testing a new cystic fibrosis drug on patients, gene therapist James M. Wilson was flying in from Philadelphia for the biggest CF conference in the world. But more important to him than the scientific papers being presented was the meeting he planned to have with a scientist who didn't think Wilson's tests would succeed. The scientist, Richard C. Boucher of the University of North Carolina, had just published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that a drug similar to Wilson's did not work.
October 2, 1995 |
University of Pennsylvania researcher Yiping Yang slid the mouse liver cells under the microscope. What Yang saw shocked him. The new gene therapy drug had stopped working. He looked at more cells. There was no trace of drug activity. Nothing. This was Vector III, a cold virus genetically engineered to treat or possibly cure cystic fibrosis. It was supposed to work much longer than two previous versions that had also been jiggered to include the gene that cystic fibrosis patients lack.
August 10, 1995 |
When Lauren Chrest, 10, and her brother Paul, 4, caught a common bug called pseudomonas cepacia last winter, it wreaked havoc for their family. Friends in Florida canceled plans to vacation with them this summer because they feared their son would catch the bug. The Chrests, of Haverford, also stopped seeing a number of close friends in this area whose children used to play with Lauren and Paul. And come next winter, the Chrests believe they won't be invited to the annual Christmas party at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.
July 24, 1995 |
Dressed in a long white lab coat, the dark-haired woman came out of the research building carrying a Styrofoam box. Mariann Grossman edged her way into the crowd of students rushing by the lab building on the University of Pennsylvania campus. She was afraid a student whizzing by on a bike would jostle her and dump the container's invaluable contents. In the box was dry ice surrounding a test tube that contained one trillion viruses. Grossman crossed Spruce Street, walked into the Penn Medical Center, and took an elevator to a lab on the sixth floor.
July 23, 1995 |
Six scientists sat patiently as Yiping Yang, a young researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, prepared to show color slides of mouse lung and liver tissue. The slides involved a complicated study of a new type of cystic fibrosis drug, but no scientific training was needed to interpret them: Pink was bad; blue was good. Pink meant that the scientists had no idea why the drug stopped working after a few weeks. Blue meant they had just found out why. This would be a breakthrough in their quest to wipe out disease with a new type of treatment called gene therapy.
June 21, 1995 |
A City Hall jury convicted a former surgical resident yesterday in less time than it took for him to drug and rape a cystic fibrosis patient in a hospital bed. After just 13 minutes of deliberations that followed a one-week trial, the jury found Dr. Richard Kennedy guilty of raping the woman after knocking her unconscious with a barbituate. The sedate doc, his bail revoked, listened silently to the verdict and then rose and hugged his wife before sheriff's deputies cuffed his hands behind his back.