In the wake of debilitating genetic diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries, many are turning to a controversial form of treatment dubbed “gene therapy,” which seeks to cure ailments at the genetic level. However, Big Pharma’s aggressive attempts to charge outlandish sums for this untested treatment could leave consumers bereft of their health and wallets.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, gene therapy works by replacing problematic, mutated genes with healthy gene copies, inactivating mutated genes that function improperly, and introducing new genes to assist in fighting disease. Currently, gene therapy is only being tested for diseases with no known cures.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a prime example of a disease being targeted by biotech companies for gene therapy, but the whopping price tag may be a hindrance to many with the disorder.
Zolgensma, an SMA gene therapy being developed by Novartis AG, would reportedly be “cost effective” at over $5 million, according to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER). Novartis echoed the institute, calling the gene therapy cost effective at $4-5 million for a one-time treatment.
Similarly, Spinraza, an SMA treatment from Biogen Inc., would charge patients $750,000 for the first year and $375,000 per year thereafter. “The promise of gene therapy in general is that it would be once and done … but that is uncertain at this point,”Alfred Sandrock, Biogen Chief Medical Officer, reportedly told Reuters.
“Spinraza is still a very viable option for babies with SMA. For children, teenagers and adults it may be the only option open to them,” Sandrock concluded, underscoring the fact that, for many suffering from genetic diseases like SMA, these costly cures could be the only option available.
Furthermore, the financial burdens presented by gene therapies could be the least of potential patients’ worries.
In September 1999, 18-year old Jesse Gelsinger died during a gene therapy trial study at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Gelsinger suffered from a genetic defect that prevents proper metabolism of ammonia and received doses of a virus carrying a “corrective gene” during the trial study.
Fast forward to 2018—James Wilson, the founder and director of Penn’s Institute for Human Gene Therapy and researcher involved in the 1999 trial study, sounded a dire warning about the dangers of gene therapy.
Noting that monkeys and pigs given high doses of gene therapy died or suffered behavioral changes during experiments, Wilson stated, “What is remarkable is we have not seen it before,” adding, “We were surprised but shouldn’t have been. If you push the dose of anything high enough, you are going to see toxicity.”
“It would be very naïve for our community to assume we won’t have toxic effects,” Wilson continued. “People get comfortable, saying, ‘Hey, let’s do it—there is nothing lose.’ Well, it’s out there waiting. But when it’s going to happen, why it’s going to happen—nobody knows.“
Moreover, some are experimenting with gene therapy on an individual basis.
Likewise, in October 2017, Josiah Zayner, CEO of biohacking startup “The Odin,” injected himself utilizing the gene-editing technology, CRISPR, in an effort to enhance his muscles. Last year however, after watching a biotechnology CEO inject himself with an untested herpes treatment, Zayner softened his approach towards experimenting with the untested treatments.
“Honestly, I kind of blame myself,” Zayner told The Atlantic, adding, “There’s no doubt in my mind that somebody is going to end up hurt eventually.”
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British Politicians Believe that the Wuhan Virus Pandemic Might Have Come from a Leak at a Chinese Laboratory
Although senior insiders in the British government maintained that “the balance of scientific advice” is still sticking to the original theory that the virus was first spread to humans from a wet market in Wuhan, a leak coming out of a laboratory in Wuhan is “no longer being discounted.”
. A member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s emergency committee recently said that while the latest intelligence report did not argue that the virus was “zoonotic” – coming from animals – it did not toss out the theory that the virus came from a leak at a Wuhan laboratory.
The member of the “Cobra” committee, which receives classified information from the security services, commented: “There is a credible alternative view [to the zoonotic theory] based on the nature of the virus. Perhaps it is no coincidence that there is that laboratory in Wuhan. It is not discounted.”
Wuhan is where the Chinese Institute of Virology is based in.
This institute is generally viewed as one of the most secure virology units in the globe.
The government-backed People’s Daily newspaper stated back in 2018 that this institute was “capable of conducting experiments with highly pathogenic microorganisms” like the deadly Ebola virus.
Scientists at the institute were the first to indicate that the virus’s genome was 96 per cent similar to one usually found in bats.
Despite being known for its tight security, there have been unverified local reports of workers at the institute becoming infected after being sprayed by blood. Subsequently, they would carry out the infection and spread it to the local population.
A second institute in the city, the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control is also speculated to have conducted experiments on animals such as bats to understand how the Wuhan Virus is spread.
Professor Richard Ebright, of Rutgers University’s Waksman Institute of Microbiology, New Jersey, said that while there is evidence that the Wuhan Virus was not created in one of the Wuhan laboratories, such a concept is not outside the realm of possibility.
Professor Ebright claims to have seen evidence that scientists at the Centre for Disease Control and the Institute of Virology studied the viruses with only “level 2” security – instead of the suggested level 4 security level – which “’provides only minimal protections against infection of lab workers.”
He continued: “Virus collection, culture, isolation, or animal infection would pose a substantial risk of infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker then the public.”
He concluded that the evidence established “a basis to rule out [that coronavirus is] a lab construct, but no basis to rule out a lab accident.”
According to a study from the South China University of Technology, the Wuhan Virus “probably” originated from the Centre for Disease Control. Curiously, shortly after this finding was published, the research paper was deleted from a social networking site for scientists and researchers.
A few days ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said it “did not recognize” claims the virus emerged from a Chinese laboratory.
Regardless of whether China purposely released the virus or not, the authoritarian country still poses a threat to American interests.
American policymakers will need to re-consider trade and immigration policies with the country.
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