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Gene therapy study halted after patient dies

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has suspended a Seattle company's gene therapy study — and is reviewing the safety of 28 others around the country — after learning that a patient died this week.

The Food and Drug Administration didn't reveal the cause of death or any details about the patient, who had enrolled in a study of gene therapy for advanced arthritis. The agency said it was investigating what role, if any, therapy played in the death, which occurred Tuesday.

It marks the third blow since 1999 to the field of gene therapy, as scientists struggle to determine if the viruses they use to deliver new genes may themselves cause serious trouble.