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Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Friday, 16 March 2012

'Exciting' new cystic fibrosis therapy


The professor leading a trial in cystic fibrosis treatment said that there is "huge excitement" about a new type of gene therapy.

Professor Eric Alton, UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium Coordinator from Imperial College, told the Today programme's Justin Webb that his team is "excited and enthused" but insisted that it was important not to hype the potential breakthrough.

The trial is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council and it is hoped that it will ultimately lead to a cure for the inherited disorder which affects around 9,500 people in the UK and 90,000 around the world.

Professor Alton told the Today programme's Justin Webb that the "biggest snag is the evolution of the lungs" which, as well as preventing germs and infections from getting in, also stop gene therapy from being effective, so his team has spent the last decade trying to find "tricks to slip the gene in."

"This is difficult science that needs to be built up gradually," he said. But if it is successful the scientists involved could "book their tickets to Stockholm to pick up their Nobel Prize".

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