Monday, May 12, 2008

Go to Europe if You're Into Gene Therapy

It can be pretty frustrating to be a scientist in gene/virotherapy vector development these days. Not because vector development is particularly difficult. The ideas, expertise and lab resources are there. As far as the science goes, we are totally capable of kicking the shit out of genetic diseases and a lot of cancers with the myriad innovative therapies we are dishing out of the lab every day. The bottleneck lies in getting the money, infrastructure and approval set up to test the new therapies in the clinic. Getting this done in North America, especially the US, is next to impossible, unless you happen to have a few billion dollars to burn.

Anyway it's interesting to note that over in Europe they seem to be having a lot more success getting cool new gene therapies into the clinic. Hence, as this Molecular Therapy editorial points out, the "vector drain" phenomenon, where vectors being developed in North America find the clinic in Europe. Will this also lead to a brain drain? It would be pretty attractive for vector researchers to just move the whole operation to an environment where their creations are likely to see implementation. Not to mention, you get to live in Europe. If some of these countries get their acts together and set up more research facilities, they'd be in position to score a real research coup.


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