Annus Mirabilis for Gene Transfer


Time to review the year 2009 for cutting edge clinical research. For the field of gene transfer, it has been an annus mirabilis: a year that has seen very encouraging results in a wide variety of human clinical studies, as well as preclinical studies. Indeed, I regret that this blog has only been able to cover a few of the former, and very little of the latter. Here are a few highlights from clinical studies:

• in March 2009, Italian researchers reported major clinical improvement in eight of ten children participating in a gene transfer study involving ADA-SCID. [discussed here]

• in June 2009, researchers at Penn / Scheie Eye Institute reported very encouraging outcomes in three children with hereditary blindness, including evidence of visual recovery. [discussed here]

• in September 2009, researchers reported “marginal effectiveness” in preventing HIV infection for a gene transfer-based vaccine. These findings from this trial (the “RV144 trial”) were unexpected after abysmal trial results involving a related strategy (the STEP trials). These are the first encouraging results from any HIV vaccine study conducted to date. [described here and here].

• in November 2009, researchers at Paris-Necker reported very encouraging outcomes in two children with adreno leukodystrophy who received a vector derived from lentiviruses [discussed here]

The decade began with a series of very inauspicious clinical outcomes in gene transfer, and a sharp abatement in the volume of clinical testing. The decade ends with several highly encouraging results from well designed and executed clinical trials. (photo credit: Xavier Luque 2009)


    title = {Annus Mirabilis for Gene Transfer},
    journal = {STREAM research},
    author = {Jonathan Kimmelman},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2009,
    month = dec,
    day = 29,
    url = {}


Jonathan Kimmelman. "Annus Mirabilis for Gene Transfer" Web blog post. STREAM research. 29 Dec 2009. Web. 16 Apr 2021. <>


Jonathan Kimmelman. (2009, Dec 29). Annus Mirabilis for Gene Transfer [Web log post]. Retrieved from

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