More research needed on gene therapy: Experts

Dr Ajit Saxena
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Dr Ajit Saxena speaking to media at an workshop in Delhi

Although gene therapy is a promising treatment option for a number of diseases the technique remains risky and there is need for more study to make sure that it will be safe and effective, says Dr Ajit Saxena, chairman of Delhi Tumour Board.

Dr Saxena was speaking at a one day academic workshop on "Cancer Immunotherapy with Emphasis on Gene Therapy", organized by the Delhi Tumour Board, in New Delhi.

Dr Saxena, who is a senior consultant in Urology Department at Apollo Hospital, Delhi, said, “This gene of science needs awareness and that is what was successfully achieved during this workshop.”

Researchers are testing several approaches to gene therapy including replacing a mutated gene that causes disease with a healthy copy of the gene, Dr Saxena added.

In the inaugural session Dr Saxena stated, “India has got talent. On the one hand we have excellent scientists doing world class research across the world and on the other hand we have clinicians known globally for their professional excellence.”

“Unfortunately, both units are working in isolation - the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing,” he said and added that this workshop is a small effort to bridge that gap.

Dr Rajarshi Roychoudhury from Montreal, Canada, who is working on gene therapy products to treat multiple diseases, said the concept of having close association between scientists and doctors was unique, and something that he has not seen in diverse conferences in the West.

Dr Pooja Saxena, a research and innovation scientist from Canada, said that gene therapy holds great promise, but, at the same time, she emphasized that as with any new technology, there are a lot of unknowns and clinical trials need to be heavily regulated.


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