3rd International Conference on Genomics and Pharmacogenomics

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Dr.Krishna Dronamraju (center) with members of the Third International Conference on Genomics and Pharmacogenomics.

HOUSTON:  In his opening address to the Conference, Dr. Krishna Dronamraju reviewed the latest information on Human Gene Therapy. The earliest cases which were successfully treated were two young girls who suffered from the auto-immune disease, Adenosine Deminase Deficiency (ADA), which left them susceptible to various bacterial and virus infections. The pioneers who treated them successfully, in 1992, were W. French Andersen, W. Michael Blaise and Kenneth Culver at the U.S. National Institutes of Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Government, in Washington D.C. However, many attempts to treat genetic diseases since then have failed completely. Much of this work involved gene therapy for various types of cancer as I know from my first hand experience as a member of the Recombinant DNA Advisory committee of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. When one patient died in 1998 under experimental trials the U.S. Congress put a stop to all human gene therapy trials for a few years.

In recent years, new and more powerful methods have been developed which can edit the human genome, enabling us to delete or suppress certain disease causing genes or add new genes at will. This method, now called the CRISPR technology, has been used to correct such diseases as hemophilia and HIV, and offers great promise to treat other complex genetic diseases including many cancers in the future.

Dr. Krishna Dronamraju is President of the Foundation for Genetic Research in Houston, and is a Visiting Professor of the University of Paris, France. He is the author of 20 books and over 200 research papers in Biotechnology. He was a member of the U.S. Presidential delegation to India in 2000, and has been actively promoting U.S.-India cooperation in Science and Technology.