Spliced: boundary-work and the establishment of human gene therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Courtney Page Addison

Human gene therapy (HGT) aims to cure disease by inserting or editing the DNA of patients with genetic conditions. Since foundational genetic techniques came into use in the 1970s, the field has developed to the point that now three therapies have market approval, and over 1800 clinical trials have been initiated. In this article I present a brief history of HGT, showing how the ethical and practical viability of the field was achieved by key scientific and regulatory actors. These parties carefully articulated gene therapy’s scope, limiting it to therapeutic interventions on somatic cells, and cultivated alliances and divisions that bolstered the field’s legitimacy. At times these measures faltered, and then practitioners and sometimes patients would invoke an ethical imperative, posing gene therapy as the best solution to life and death problems. I suggest that we consider how boundary-work stretches out from science to enlist diverse publics, social formations and the natural world in the pursuit of legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBioSocieties
Volume12
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)257–281
Number of pages25
ISSN1745-8552
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ID: 160671728