Gene therapy, now a pillar of biotechnology with the potential to cure deadly diseases, was once a cautionary tale of scientific brinkmanship.

At the turn of the century, the once-promising idea of replacing a faulty gene with a corrective copy took a tragic turn. A 1999 clinical trial resulted in the death of an 18-year-old patient, dashing the ambitions of researchers and beginning a years-long fallow period in which finding support — and funding — for gene therapy research was more difficult than ever.

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