Do you see any potential ethical and social problems with this gene therapy study?

A pharmaceutical company is developing a gene therapy protocol for male pattern baldness. The product is a cream that contains a retrovirus similar to the viruses that cause the common cold. The virus contains a gene that promotes hair growth. To be effective, the cream needs to be rubbed on the bald skin and not removed (by washing) for at least three hours. In animal studies, the cream has successfully grown hair on bald rodents with few side effects, other than some respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold. The company would like to begin phase I trials on healthy, adult men with male pattern baldness.

• Do you see any potential ethical and social problems with this gene therapy study?

• If you were an IRB member, would you approve it?

• What else would you like to know about this research before you make a decision?

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