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Byline: Huntly Collins
May 25--The University of Pennsylvania said yesterday that it would dramatically restructure its prestigious Institute for Human Gene Therapy in the wake of patient-safety concerns raised by the death of an Arizona teenager during a clinical trial last fall.
The restructuring will remove all human gene-therapy trials from the institute and place them under the jurisdiction of individual scientific investigators and their departments elsewhere in the medical school.
The changes, prompted by an in-depth review of Penn's institute by an outside scientific committee, were immediately hailed by the Food and Drug Administration, which has put a hold on all of Penn's human gene-therapy trials since the death of Jesse Gelsinger.
In a brief statement, however, FDA officials gave no hint of whether the changes would be enough to lift the freeze on gene-therapy experiments aimed at curing various inherited disorders and cancers.
Penn's restructuring, which is likely to prompt similar changes at other universities, comes as the experimental field of gene …