Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Imprinting Expectation

(...continued from previous post)  Whatever the ambiguity and severe limitations in terms of sample size and interpretability, the NEJM studies have unleashed a torrent of expectation. Accoding to the U.K. Guardian, "an 18-year-old man... has amazed doctors by navigating a maze..." and the technique "represented a 'huge advance.'"

The Washington Post's Rick Weiss was harshly critical of Targeted Genetics when a volunteer died in a study involving AAV vectors and arthritis. Those who view Weiss as sour on gene transfer should consider his enthusiastic coverage of the LCA results.  The lede states unequivocally that three volunteers "regained modest amounts of vision," and describes the results as "something short of miraculous."

In Canada, the Globe and Mail's Hayley Mick reports on a Canadian undergoing a similar procedure in Florida (their results are unpublished). "Within weeks, the patients who took part [in the Penn and U.K.] trials reported varying degrees of vision improvement."

Per usual, all three present a human drama narrative– which is certain to amplify expectations further– naming (and in some cases, photographing) two volunteers: Dale Turner and Steven Howarth. (to be continued... photo credit: GiantsFanatic 2007)

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