Juiced up genes, an alternative to steroids

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When Olympic medals and multi-million-dollar contracts are at stake, athletes and coaches have been known to resort to drastic measures to strike gold. But as the steroid era evolves amidst increased testing and public hectoring, what other performance booster will enter the ring?

Gene therapy, say a host of researchers, three of whom call for more oversight of the technique’s use in athletics. In a commentary published online February 4 in Science, Theodore Friedmann, of the University of California at San Diego in La Jolla, and his colleagues wrote that aside from ethical questions of good sporting practices, many genetic therapies are far from proven: “Although highly effective in some models, these gene therapy techniques are imperfect and still highly risky.”

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