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D. Gene Therapy: The Pros And Cons

Narrator: This is Science Today. Michael German, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says over the years gene therapy has gotten a bad reputation.

German: Part of the reason for that is the targets for gene therapy in the past have been very difficult targets. People have tried to treat diseases that are very difficult to treat, often previously untreatable diseases have been attempted. If you can possibly come up with a treatment for an incurable disease, that's great. But it's sort of a Hail Mary approach.

Narrator: Instead, German and his colleagues are targeting diabetes - a treatable disease - by genetically engineering certain cells in the digestive system to secrete insulin into the bloodstream. Such an approach would bring an end to daily insulin injections.

German: What we think we're doing with the approach that we're using is, we are treating diseases that presently do have a treatment, like diabetes. But the treatment is not optimal and we think we can make a significant improvement and improve the lives of those patients. That's our goal.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.