Medical Minute: Experimental Gene Therapy

More than one million diabetics have wounds that won't heal and it’s one of the leading causes of amputations in the United States. Now, an experimental gene therapy treatment might help save some of those limbs.

Mark Brownell can't wait to go fishing in his restored bass boat. He did all the work himself, right down to the non-skid tape.

"It's down to a tiny, tiny wound right now. A really clean base."

Mark is glad to be focused on fishing, rather than the wounds on his feet. Ulcers from years of diabetes led to the amputation of each of his toes.

"And, so they don't do anything about it, until it's often too late," says Dr. Mulder.

"They told me the next time I come in for any kind of surgery, they'll have to take it off halfway to the knee," says Mark.

But Mark's leg may have been saved with this experimental gene therapy. He used the gel for about two months after more than two years of open sores.

"We're beginning to look at products that actually affect, or interact with, cells in our body."

The gel contains an inactive cold virus.

"And that virus helps deliver the specific gene sequence into the cells themselves.

Dr. Mulder calls it "genetic machinery." Mark doesn't need the gel anymore, just cleaning and re-bandaging at his checkups.

"It's done a fine job closing things up. Like I said, put some on the front of my foot, see if I can grow a few toes back, but that would be a miracle."

Mark's sense of humor has kept his spirits up while also keeping him looking forward to his fishing trips.

For more information, contact:

Barbara A. Sosnowski, Ph.D.
Selective Genetics, Inc.
11588 Sorrento Valley Road, Suite 21
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 793-6641 ext. 3014

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