Better treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF) could be on the cards after a gene therapy breakthrough by Oxford scientists.
The breakthrough involves plasmids, tiny circles of DNA that can carry healthy genes to where they can replace faulty CF genes in the lining of the lung.
Deborah Gill and Stephen Hyde from Oxford's Nuffield Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences report in Nature Biotechnology that they have developed new versions of plasmids carrying the healthy CF gene that do not produce flu-like symptoms in recipients. They removed the side effect by 'editing out' markers (known as CpG motifs) that are recognised by the human body as 'danger signals', triggering an inflammatory response in the lung.
The team will now look to test the new plasmid as part of the CF Gene Therapy Consortium's clinical programme - which is funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.