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November 14, 1980

Gene transfer experiment in humans meets with scant approval

JAMA. 1980;244(19):2139-2140. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310190003001

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When Martin J. Cline, MD, of the UCLA School of Medicine announced his recent trial of gene transfer in humans outside the United States, some thought it might be the opening of a new era in the treatment of genetic diseases.

But this first attempt to use genetic engineering methods to treat patients directly has aroused the criticism of the community of scientists who are most involved in recombinant DNA research.

Although most of the critics say they hope that therapy of this kind will eventually work, they believe that this attempt had no reasonable probability of success. Both clinicians and basic scientists in the fields of recombinant DNA research and hematology are concerned that Cline was brash and used poor scientific judgment in attempting such an experiment at this time.

In the meantime, Cline has resigned as chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the medical school while UCLA's