STAT

Can gene therapy halt diseases in babies before they’re even born?

Imagine a virus being slipped into a pregnant woman’s womb, delivering a corrective gene to a fetus and remedying a disease before the baby is even born.

Gene therapies — in which a corrective gene hitches a ride on a virus into a patient’s cells — are being tested as potential cures or treatments for sickle cell, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and a range of other diseases. Some patients have already been treated with a gene therapy for an inherited form of blindness, the first to be approved in the U.S.

Now, imagine the virus-gene rig slipping into a pregnant woman’s womb, where it would reach the fetus and start remedying a disease before the baby is even born.

That kind of procedure remains an untested goal for now — one whose feasibility has been debated by scientists for years. But advances in fetal gene therapies in animal

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