January 29, 1998
The state of the future The entire store of human knowledge now doubles every five years. In the 1980s, scientists identified the gene causing cystic fibrosis. It took nine years. Last year, we located the gene that causes Parkinson's disease in only nine days. Within a decade, "gene chips" will offer a road map for prevention of illness throughout a lifetime . . . . A child born in 1998 may well live to see the 22d century . . . . As important as rapid scientific progress is, science must continue to serve humanity, never the other way around.
December 1, 1997 |
They are a family. They are a cause. And when the game was long over, the result still disappointingly fresh, Boomer Esiason walked through the locker room door and headed straight for his wife and his son, for Cheryl and Gunnar. They hugged. It clearly was the best part of Esiason's day. For Gunnar. That's where we begin. He is 6 years old. He has cystic fibrosis. He was pictured several times yesterday on the NBC telecast as he watched his father throw for 378 yards and four touchdowns against the Eagles, all in vain, all in a 44-42 loss at the Vet. This is why Boomer still plays.
November 30, 1997 |
Of course Boomer Esiason is hugely happy to be a starting quarterback in the NFL again, since he is 36 years old and came back this fall to Cincinnati, the team he took to the Super Bowl in 1988, to take live snaps in real games only if Jeff Blake got hurt. Last week, Blake wasn't hurt, but his 52-game starting streak was ended. Esiason was the starting quarterback, the day was magic, and the Bengals upset the Jacksonville Jaguars. And, so, yeah, Esiason is happy as he sits in the dining room at Spinney Field, the dingy Bengals training facility.
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.