The Ethical Controversy of Gene Therapy - The Use of a Cell Line From An Aborted Fetus
As stated before, gene therapies require a virus to deliver genes. Viruses cannot replicate on their own. They need a cell host to replicate. Gene therapies typically use a virus called AAV. To produce AAV, the viral replication uses a cell line called HEK293 cell that was produced in the 1970s in the Netherlands. The HEK293 cell line was created from an aborted fetus. The HEK293 cell is also used for producing protein drugs like Pulmozyme which is used in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. Thus, the use of HEK293 cells raises ethical concerns for pro-life patients, pro-life healthcare providers, the Catholic Church and for the over 600 Catholic hospitals in the US.
This is a major reason why the Institute prefers cell therapy over gene therapy. Cell therapy does not require the need for ethically controversial cells like the HEK293 cell.
To further understand the issues surrounding this cell line, read the Forbes article entitled "Biotech's Fear Factor" by clicking here.