Gene Therapy in China; From a Dutch perspective

Research reports | 31.05.2011 | CGM 2011-03

In 2006, COGEM has reported that gene therapy research in China rapidly expands. COGEM mentioned that this development may imply possible environmental risks to the Netherlands and Europe as result of medical tourism. Thereby patients travel in this case to China to obtain gene therapy treatment, where after they will return to their home country and possibly shed the gene therapeutic in the environment. On basis of this observation COGEM commissioned a study to gain insight into the developments in the field of gene therapy, which are published in the Chinese scientific literature.

The resulting report confirms the previously mentioned vision of the COGEM. In China the area of gene therapy is still quickly developing. However, at the moment the scientific research performed in China is similar to the research performed in the Western countries.
It is mentioned by the researchers that important results of Chinese scientific research are published more and more in English. Consequently, Western countries will gain better insight in the current developments in China. Moreover, the attention for biosafety seems to change in China. The researchers observed increasing attention to shedding aspects of gene therapeutics into the environment.
In addition, it is reported that gene therapeutics, which are approved for the Chinese market are also applied outside the authorized application, the so-called off-label use. The COGEM points out that this will happen in the Netherlands too, whenever the first human gene therapeutic will be authorized for the European market.

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