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Researchers increasingly look to gene therapy for treatments



Medical researchers are putting a lot of resources into understanding genes as both the causes and solution to many diseases.

University of Rochester Medical Center Professor of Pediatrics, David Dean studies the best way to treat disease through gene therapy.

His laboratory recently received a 4-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Doctor Dean explains one challenge facing researchers in his field.

"The main roadblock we've had to almost all the gene therapy techniques has been this one of delivery. How do you get it into cells and ultimately into humans?"

Dean’s research seeks to find more efficient delivery systems for gene therapy-with potential implications for many diseases that are currently untreatable.

"What we find true in the cells that we're using holds true in the lung, as well as it holds true in the brain if we're doing delivery. So, on the one hand, it applies to everything."

Dean’s laboratory also focuses much attention on lung diseases, including acute lung injury which causes fluid buildup in the lung. It can cause death between 25 and 30 percent of the time.

Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with the health collaborative Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.