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Faster, Electric Gene Therapy Could Cure Diseases

A stunning new study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday shows that researchers have figured out a potentially faster, more efficient way to deliver gene therapy, using electricity as opposed to the traditional virus method, reports The New York Times. If proven successful, the technique could not only help treat cancers but autoimmune diseases. The technique improves upon immunotherapy, which has emerged as one of the most promising ways to treat diseases previously thought incurable. Immunotherapy involves using the body’s own T-cells, which normally attack viruses and other “invaders” to help fight infection, but fail to do so in the case of cancers. Gene therapy relies on using a benign virus to carry a genetic code into the body and target diseased cells. The method has been successful but takes time and extreme precision. The new electrical method, however, solves that problem by precisely targeting cells, speeding up the normally time-intensive process of gene therapy and potentially making nearly all cancers treatable. “What takes months or even a year may now take a couple weeks using this new technology,” Fred Ramsdell, vice president of research at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco, told the Times. “If you are a cancer patient, weeks versus months could make a huge difference. I think it’s going to be a huge breakthrough.”