Gene-therapy history

Over the last 60 years, the field of gene therapy has made strides in treating diseases at the genetic level. Scroll through the timeline below to explore the key moments. Then you can see how far gene therapy has come.


Gene therapy is born

Professor William Szybalski makes a discovery. He finds that adding DNA to a cell corrects gene mutations.


The Asilomar Conference

There was worldwide concern about altering genes. World leaders meet to create rules to help guide future research.


Discovery of CRISPR

Professor Francisco Mojica discovers a unique trait of bacterial DNA. His discovery later becomes a type of gene editing known as CRISPR.


Setbacks for gene therapy

A gene-therapy patient passes away after an unexpected reaction to the gene’s delivery vehicle. The following year, 2 European trials have a setback. Several of their patients develop a form of cancer due to uncontrolled mutations.


The first National Gene Transfer Research Safety Meeting

Conversations begin between health experts and researchers. The goal is to improve safety protocols in gene transfer trials.

FDA and NIH plan new safety initiatives

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) join efforts to improve safety for people in gene-therapy studies.


New type of gene editing studied

Zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), first discovered in the African clawed frog, are shown to edit human genes.


First use of TALENs

A study shows the use of transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to edit human genes.


Discovery of new gene-editing tool

Scientists change bacteria using a tool called CRISPR. It allows for the precise cutting of DNA.


First FDA-approved gene therapy

The FDA approves the first gene therapy in the United States. Later they approve the first in-vivo gene addition treatment.


Gene-therapy clinical trials expand

Clinical trials continue to grow and expand. They test the safety and effectiveness of different types of gene therapy.

Throughout this timeline, you’ve seen a glimpse of gene therapy’s history and where it currently stands. You can take your learning a step further by exploring our Learning Center to help you on your journey.

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